L-R: Janet Morris-Reade (BC), Carrie Axten (Alberta), Monika Fiest (Manitoba), Akosua Alagaratnam (Ontario), Valérie Roy (Quebec)
Last week, I and my colleagues from the Canadian Coalition of Community-Based Employability Training (CCCBET) presented at Cannexus in Ottawa. We discussed changes in Canada's public employment programs, including the mismatch between job supply and demand, the dual challenges faced by employment service providers from both job seekers and employers, the impact of technology on traditional employment services, and the evolving profile of job seekers with multiple barriers.
These changes occur in an environment where service providers deal with limited funding, difficulties retaining qualified staff, and heightened competition. Despite these challenges, collaboration is essential to strengthen community-based networks and address the country's economic needs. We highlighted concerns about the growing dominance of online services but emphasized that collaboration presents an opportunity for innovation.
During our presentation, we shared practical tools like the CARMIS case management system, industry-specific online training (e.g., Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association), and online support resources like FutureFit AI, LinkedIn learning, and Google micro-credential certification. Following the presentation, we engaged in group discussions, addressing key questions:
- In re-thinking service design, what resources or tools does your organization use?
- What would you like the funders and policymakers to know about the value of community services?
- In what ways are you using new technologies and generative AI in your communities?
We are compiling a full report, but in general, what we heard is that some contracts are too prescriptive and do not make room for innovation, the increasing work with employers is not adequately funded, and that mid-career support is an excellent way to navigate out of the current "fail first" public employment system in which we find ourselves.
ASPECT faces a huge task in ensuring that funders fully comprehend the comprehensive range of activities carried out by community-based employment service providers. Although the initial impact of technology and the shift toward virtual services may lead to a reduction in contracts, a substantial amount of essential work in the community remains unfunded and possibly unnoticed. This work is crucial for meeting future labour market and economic requirements. Disrupting this ecosystem could have severe consequences for communities, and the repercussions might not become apparent until it is too late.
Remember to use #HumansofEmployment in all your social media posts to help us get the word out about the work that you do.
Janet Morris-Reade, CEO