Yesterday, we hosted the last virtual regional member meetings, and I wish to thank everyone who participated. We had a few reasons for holding regional meetings versus provincial meetings: to create connections for those within the regions, hear about the advocacy work that they are doing on behalf of clients and communities, and identify challenges and successes to inform ASPECT's future work.
One member suggested a phrase that resonated with us as it sums up much of your work: "One door, many services."
Here's some of what we heard:
- Digital services and digital literacy are still challenging for many clients and employers. Connectivity continues to be a barrier for much of the geographical province.
- Rural and remote inequities persist, and more advocacy is needed to promote the ASPECT report Refocusing the Urban Lens for Rural & Remote Employment Services.
- Employers are well engaged with community service providers but need considerable help attracting and retaining employees. Many find it difficult to adjust to the new realities of the current labour market. Much of this time-consuming work is not funded.
- Members are involved in exceptional advocacy work. They work within inter-agency committees to promote services, learn about other services, and problem-solve for their clients. They are active in local economic development corporations, Chambers of Commerce, and all levels of government and contribute to local task forces.
- They love what they do! No matter how challenging their work can be, they love helping people and creating programs to address vast and unique challenges.
Funders, policymakers, politicians, and the public often struggle to grasp the breadth of employment service providers' work and their profound impact on communities. This daily challenge becomes apparent when meeting new individuals. To aid in overcoming this hurdle, please use the hashtag #humansofemployment in your social media posts. By doing so, we can efficiently showcase real-life examples when elucidating the diverse nature of our work.
ASPECT is also working on two fronts: working with the Canadian Coalition of Community-Based Employability Training (CCCBET) and CERIC to launch national campaigns spreading the word about career development and all its facets. On Sunday before Cannexus, I will work with the National Advocacy Committee to design an outreach strategy and messaging. Then, on Wednesday morning at Cannexus, I will present with my CCCBET colleagues at a session called "Employment Services at a Crossroads: Do They Need to Change?" where we will discuss the value of community-based services and the work ahead to innovate using new technologies.
Everything I heard from ASPECT members this month through our virtual regional meetings will inform that work, and I want to thank you again for your contributions.
Janet Morris-Reade, CEO