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  • 02 December 2022 11:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)



    I don't mean to sound alarmist, but we are in a situation critical throughout the province to recruit and retain staff for ASPECT member employment service providers (ESPs). According to a recent Labour Market Information Council post, the tight labour market is here to stay. Our sector, however, has huge competition for labour, and it's coming from our funders, who directly control how much we can pay our staff. One employer at a recent member meeting exclaimed that ESPs "are becoming the training ground for government," and in the current environment, we are powerless to remedy the situation.

    Why are ESP staff leaving?

    The recent public service and institution union pay increases, municipal pension plan, and the promise of long-term employment outside of the contracting environment are noted as the top reasons for staff leaving. Add to that rising costs, job burnout, and, in some contracts, an increased and unnecessary burden of administration is of concern. The complexity of the work required to deliver employment programs has made it especially difficult to recruit and retain qualified staff, and the lack of flexibility within existing ESP contracts makes it impossible to compete in today's labour market. 

    Even as I write this, I'm feeling a bit panicky about the situation. 

    What is ASPECT doing about this?

    Our recent report, Refocusing the Urban Lens for Rural & Remote Employment Services, outlines some of the challenges ESPs face in recruiting and retaining staff (see Section 2, page 21). We have shared this report with funders and are working with the Rural and Remote committee to expand it by offering case studies to support our study, continuing to advocate on this issue.

    We are also working on a new report with the WorkBC Advisory Committee to identify solutions to improve the current program and reduce administrative challenges. We hope to have the report out in early 2023. 

    ASPECT is contributing to the Social Services Sector Training and Education Plan project, led by the BC Friendship Centres and the Federation of Community Social Services of BC. We also work on the Social Services Sector Roundtable Reference Group, in which the recruitment and retention of staff is a top priority. The challenges faced by employment services are shared by other social care contractors.

    Finally, we are supporting the work of the Canadian Career Development Foundation and their development of the Canadian Career Development Centre to deliver onboarding training for new career development practitioners. The hope is that these courses will remove some of the time and costs associated with onboarding new staff from outside of employment services.

    We still have a lot of work to do on this challenging issue and continue to work with our colleagues in the public service to help them design thoughtful programs that support the clients and communities while ensuring that our social safety net is strong.

    What do we need help with?

    We need funders to design programs that are service-driven versus cost-driven. This means ensuring that ESPs have the funding in their contacts to adequately support the work and, when a contract is awarded, refrain from renegotiating it in a way that undermines staffing. We need existing contracts to be amended to allow for increased pay for employment service providers. When many of these contracts were awarded, the labour market was different than it is today. Possible future contact extensions must have funds available for ESPs to increase pay for their staff and allow more flexibility in contracted staffing requirements.  

    It is a complex situation that appears to be getting worse. In addition to finding innovative solutions to parts of the problem, the simple solution is more money for employment service contractors.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO
    ASPECT BC


  • 15 November 2022 4:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    ASPECT's Refocusing the Urban Lens for Rural and Remote Employment Services report is a cumulation of a 6-month long community-based research project. We've heard from 176 ASPECT members in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities through our rural and remote advisory committee, who collectively volunteered 232 hours of their time to inform the report, edit it, create recommendations, and write it. The result is a record of the challenges facing rural and remote employment service providers and a comprehensive list of solutions that policymakers and funders can implement. 


    Here are some of the recommendations, but within the report much more detail is available.

    Thank you to everyone who participated in this project and their employers who enabled their contributions.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO
    ASPECT BC


  • 10 November 2022 12:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)



    You may remember that ASPECT is a member of the Social Services Sector Roundtable Reference Group, a wider group of social care umbrella groups that inform the Social Services Sector Roundtable members of the issues that are important to them. 

    Last week in our Aspectives newsletter, I quickly shared with you a submission to the BC Ministry of Finance, but this week, I wanted to spend a bit more time on the topic since it impacts your work.

    The provincial government is reviewing its Core Policy and Procedures Manual (CPPM) Chapter 21: Government Transfers.

    Because of the less-than-ideal WorkBC procurement process of 2017-2018 and ongoing issues with other funder contracts, I have been advocating behind the scenes to find remedies that support local communities. That is why I am delighted to see this proposal that takes a pan-sector view and articulates the issues much better than I can.

    Here are the highlights from the submission that represents 16 associations (ASPECT included):

    1. Take a community development approach to planning, funding, and evaluation of community social services.

    2. Challenges associated with the current funding approach are:
    • Lack of community involvement
    • Unrealistic timelines
    • Bid scoring undermines the true cost of delivering service
    • A disconnect between contract outcomes versus community needs
    • Competitive bidding undercuts the strength of the social network
    • Downloading of risk in contracts to the community social services organizations
    • Constant contract language changes and legal costs associated
    • Delays in contract negotiations
    • Inability to renegotiate contracts
    • Using contract negotiations as quality assurance measures
    • Matching fund agreements
    • Service providers, when responding to client needs, should be trusted rather than bullied
    • A lack of understanding of community social services
    • Precarious or impractical year-to-year contracts

    3. Policy Revision Ideas
    • Decolonizing
    • Outcomes-based  accountability
    • Sustainability
    • Integrity - fund for true costs
    • Evaluation criteria for funding decisions
    • Community-driven making the community part of of the service planning and development
    • Collaborative with shared decision-making power 
    • Learning approach to creating a new model


    Even as I write the highlights of the submission, I am concerned about being reductive of its content. It is such a vital dialogue for service providers and the government to have, and I encourage you to read the document. 

    Thank you to the Federation of Community Social Services of BC and my Social Service Sector Roundtable Reference Group colleagues for taking the leadership on this crucial issue.

    Link to the full submission

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO
    ASPECT BC

     


  • 28 October 2022 10:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    I attended a consultation with the Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery, and Innovation, Hon. Ravi Kahlon yesterday. The purpose was to inform the development of Stronger BC initiatives. ASPECT provided input last June regarding creating business development opportunities for people with barriers within this ministry. 


    As a representative of over 100 employment service providers and trainers throughout the province, I was able to take your concerns forward. With me on the call were ASPECT members (ISSofBC, DiverseCity, Community Futures of BC) and organizations that ASPECT has a connection with, i.e., Small Business BC, Business Improvement Associations of BC, and WeBC (formerly Women's Enterprise Centre). These organizations are doing incredible work supporting their communities through entrepreneurial start-up programs with wrap-around services, micro-lending, business training, and more. Those on the call shared their successful initiatives with the Minister and his team.


    The community-based organizations on the call are doing effective work with remarkable outcomes. A few mentioned that many are doing this work with no or limited government funding. It reminded me that the provincial government doesn't need to invent new grant schemes to build businesses; it just needs to support the community-based organizations already working with existing and potential employers, removing barriers to access, and building communities. 


    I was in Vancouver on Tuesday at a meeting called Skills for Net-Zero Economy, hosted by the Future Skills Centre and the Conference Board of Canada. Panellist Bindi Sawchuk, Assistant Deputy Minister of Workforce Development and Division Responsible for Skills Training in the Ministry of Advance Education and Skills Training, said something that articulated much of what we are seeing now in the labour market. She said that for her generation, we have lived in a demand-driven market, but now we are in a supply-driven market. Simple, concise, and perfectly describes the shift employers are scrambling to make. ASPECT members are helping employers move through this new reality; our job to train and promote those underrepresented in the workforce is more important now than ever.


    The catch to contributing to the Province's Stronger BC economic plan is to recognize the economic value of our sector and adequately fund the community-based organizations that are already doing so much with so little. As Tom Conway of Small Business BC put it, "we are the safety net of a crumbling safety net."  



    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO
    ASPECT BC

  • 21 October 2022 12:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    We are in the final stages of conference planning, and I am delighted to announce that the Minister of Social Development & Poverty Reduction, Hon. Nicholas Simons will deliver an opening address at breakfast on Friday, November 4. As you may remember, at past conferences, then-minister Shane Simpson was a frequent visitor to ASPECT events, and we are looking forward to getting to know Minister Simons as well. I think you'll be delighted to learn that Minister Simons comes from a history of social care and has served the public in the political realm since 2005. Click here to read his full bio.

    I wanted to thank our public service colleagues for sending some of their teams to the conference. This support of ASPECT and the work we and our members do is very much appreciated. We will be welcoming about 20 or more people from the public service to our conference this year. We are also excited to welcome Karen Blackman, Assistant Deputy Minister, Employment and Labour Market Services Division of the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, and Matt Ayres, Chief Labour Market Economist and Executive Director of the Labour Market Information Office in the Workforce Development and Skills Training Division of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training. Karen and Matt will be presenting the Ministry Updates on Friday morning. 

    I understand that for many of you reading this, the ASPECT Conference is not affordable or that you cannot spare staff to attend at this time. Travel, hotel, and conference hosting prices are much higher than in past years. I'm sorry about that and wish that I had more control over it. That's why we appreciate your investments and will endeavour to deliver an outstanding event for those of you who are registered, exhibiting at and sponsoring the conference this year. I have heard your requests for a virtual conference option, which I will investigate in the coming months.

    Thank you to our sponsors CSBT and Delta Pacific Benefit Brokers Ltd. (ASPECT Benefits Program), Douglas College Training Group, Neil Squire Society, WCG, and Maximus for helping us make this event possible. 

    The ASPECT Conference will be the networking event of the year. So get those business cards printed, prepare to meet new people, and reacquaint yourself with old friends.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO
    ASPECT BC


    This just in, Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, Andre Mercer, will help us open the conference on Thursday morning. Please click here for his bio and here, for his mandate letter.
     

  • 14 October 2022 10:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    It has been an exciting week. Here are some updates:


    ASPECT Annual Conference - November 3 & 4 in Victoria

    Our ASPECT Conference is almost sold out! We have only about 15 spots left. If you're like me, you might need to hunt down your business cards to take full advantage of this networking event. Also, you might want to prepare yourself for a masked event. With the rise of COVID and the nasty flu variant expected, we'd like to ensure everyone is protected. If you have registered and get sick, you can always transfer your registration to someone else. 

     

    Employer Outreach

    The "10 Ways Employers Can Address Their Talent Needs by Partnering with Career Development Professionals" document is out! Last June, we had a consultation session with CERIC and the BC Career Development Association to review the results of CERIC's Employer Survey and discuss how Career Development Professionals work with employers. At this month's ASPECT Members Discussion on October 19, we will discuss the contents of this document further and share engagement ideas. Please register to get the zoom link and updates.

     

    Career Development Professional Centre (a.k.a CDP Institute)

    I attended a cross-country meeting yesterday where I heard the great news about the new project to establish a CDP Centre. As you might remember, a feasibility study took place over the summer that involved 440 CDPs in 47 focus groups and 550+ survey responses. Delivered by the Canadian Career Development Foundation and Funded by the Government of Canada through the Future Skills Centre, this one-year initiative will include the following:

    1. A home for the CDP Competency Framework & Code of Ethics
    2. Development of basic foundational training for CDP practice
    3. A new CDP Community of Practice web platform with the ability to create micro-communities
    4. A hub to promote existing CDP training
    5. Evidence-based practice catalogue
    6. Development and implementation of an advocacy strategy

    There will be more information at the ASPECT Conference, and I will, of course, update you on the CDP Centre and all of the above as I have more information.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO
    ASPECT


  • 07 October 2022 10:03 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    It's been a busy time preparing for the ASPECT Conference while also attending to our important advocacy work. Here's a little update for you:

    AEST STE Update

    AEST has issued an update about a new Call for Responses (CFR) that I have included again in Aspectives this week. If you didn't have time to qualify last time around, this is a good opportunity to respond. More details are below.

    Forum of Federal, Provincial & Territorial (FTP) Ministers Responsible for Seniors: Ageism in Canada

    This consultation session was fascinating. It looked at ageism and self-ageism in the areas of employment, media and social media, health and health care, safety and security, and social isolation. Here is a link to the discussion guide with key findings from 442 studies on ageism. One sentence in the guide was particularly shocking to me:

    "It has been estimated that $56 billion per year would be added to Canada’s
    gross domestic product if the number of workers aged 55 to 69 was
    increased from 54% to the percentage in top performing countries such as
    Sweden, Japan, and the United States (62%)." (Discussion Guide, p. 7)

    The FTP is asking for people to complete the online questionnaire and share your stories of ageism by October 31, 2022.

    Public Employment Services History Project

    ASPECT has taken on a history project about the last 25 years of public employment services. Vera Wu, who works for an ASPECT member, has volunteered her time to read Dr. Donna E. Wood's book, Federalism in Action: The Devolution of Canada’s Public Employment Service, 1995-2015, and create a summary and infographic that you can use to train staff, and that ASPECT can use when we are meeting politicians and public servants who are new to the sector.

    My CEO predecessor, Norma Strachan, worked with Donna to ensure that the BC experiences were documented and before she passed, Donna would frequently join Norma and me for lunch so that I had a good understanding of the history (before her book was released). Many thanks to Vera for taking on this project and to Norma for informing the book. Of course, thanks to Donna who helped me to understand and sparked my interest in public policy development. 

    BC Employer Training Grant

    At the ministry's request, I met with Cameron Ferrie, Director, of Employer Programs and Services, Workforce Development and Skills Training Division, Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, for what I thought was a consultation about the BC Employer Training Grant.

    Unfortunately, it was actually an information-sharing session and not a consultation session. Because I had done a fair amount of research to prepare for a consultation, Cameron graciously allowed me to provide feedback.

    When the BC Employer Training Grant first came out, it was delivered by community service agencies of which ASPECT was one. The fund was over-subscribed each quarter. Then the decision was made to move it online -- using the BCeID to access an online application. Unfortunately, this grant is no longer easy to access for employers, is wholly under-subscribed, and employment service providers across the province are assisting employers without receiving compensation. As an employer with experience with government online applications, the online application is not exactly easy to use. I advocated for the government to reconsider engaging community service providers to promote the program and assist employers with the online application, giving service providers compensation for this work. Thanks, Cameron, for listening to and noting my feedback.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO
    ASPECT


  • 30 September 2022 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    S.U.C.C.E.S.S. CEO and ASPECT member, 
    Queen Choo delivered the closing keynote
    at the Board Voice Conference on September 24, 2022.


    Last Friday and Saturday, I attended the Board Voice Conference, where board members and executive staff of social care non-profit organizations came together to talk and learn. Kudos to Board Voice Executive Director Jody Paterson for excellently pulling together some fascinating sessions. Two topics repeatedly emerged during the two days: reconciliation in social services and the new trust-based Recovery and Resiliency Fund.

     

    The discussions around Truth and Reconciliations centred on how we, as the social care sector, remove barriers to Indigenous clients. How can we help to acknowledge generational trauma? And what can we do in our organizations right now?

     

    Of course, there were no easy answers, but the biggest thing I learned then and have been learning in the cultural safety course was to slow down and listen. Learn about the Indian Act and the history of colonial structures that have hurt Indigenous communities and which systems still do. Finally, understand that each Indigenous community has its own culture and practices. Although some share traditions, assuming homogeneous perspectives is short-sighted. 

     

    The Recovery and Resiliency Fund is a new social service funding approach with all government Ministries watching. At the conference, I heard from politicians and deputy minister panellists that this funding is innovative because it brings together a collaboration of funders, removes competition amongst service providers, and is trust-based. The provincial government, Vancouver Foundation, United Way BC, and the New Relationship Trust are offering $34 million to fund multi-year projects. Every applicant who qualifies for the fund will have their proposal placed into a pool from which successful proposals will be drawn. Once awarded, the funded organization is trusted to use the money as they see fit to support the project. 

     

    The close date is October 5, and has limited eligibility. I am hopeful that this funding style will be a resounding success so that we may see the future.

     

    After two days at the Board Voice conference, I had a deeper understanding of the issues, and I was inspired and hopeful. It is exactly the feeling I hope those attending the ASPECT conference have. At the request of several groups who were having difficulty organizing payment and hotel rooms, we have extended the early bird rate to Wednesday, October 5, at 11:59 pm. Unfortunately, the conference hotel is fully booked, but there are other options on our website that are walkable or a short taxi ride away.


    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO
    ASPECT BC
     


  • 16 September 2022 11:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Last June, ASPECT and the BC Career Development Association hosted a CERIC roundtable to discuss employer engagement and how to demonstrate the value of career development professionals (CDPs). We had an excellent turnout from the sector. Thank you to Cyrielle Filias, Alexandra Manoliu, and others from the CERIC team for taking on the enormous task of compiling our notes and comments into the Virtual Community Roundtable Summary.

    But the project doesn't stop there! Coming soon is a document you can use in your employer outreach called 10 Ways Employers Can Partner with Career Services. It's in the editing phase and should be available in the coming weeks.

    Thank you to everyone who participated in this endeavour. We could not have done it without you!

    Click image below to see full document.

     

  • 09 September 2022 2:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)



    One of the reasons ASPECT exists is to inform government programs and policy development on your behalf. Yesterday, I had that opportunity with 28 colleagues from across Canada to do just that. Also with me on the call were ASPECT members David Lee of MOSAIC and Ken Newell of Kopar Administration Ltd. The discussion topic was the Canada Training Benefit (CTB) redesign. 



    Image source: https://www.budget.gc.ca/2019/docs/themes/good-jobs-de-bons-emplois-en.html

    The discussion paper, sent to stakeholders in advance, outlines the government's work to date and the research and consultations used for the discussion. For policy wonks like me, I did a deep dive into the previous work, and it was fascinating! Our government hosts genuinely wanted to know our thoughts, with consultation leader and former ASPECT Summit speaker Rhonda Fernandes, Director General, Youth and Skills Innovation Directorate, at the helm. 

    Here are links to documents referenced in the discussion paper:
    Our discussion questions touched on current supports, client barriers to participating in the program, information the client needs to make decisions, and what gaps should to be addressed. You can rest assured that BC's interests and the interests of employment service providers were well-represented at the discussion table.

    David Lee, spoke of the WorkBC supports, Ken Newell, voiced concerns about challenges for rural and remote clients to access training and connectivity, and I focused on the need publicly-funded mid-career employment services, and changing the payment model from tax credits to upfront grants. Everyone suggested that the CTB should increase from $250 per year to at least $1000 per year. We also suggested that government use the existing network of career development professionals to help clients navigate future careers before committing to training opportunities, as community-based providers have more expertise than a wholly online tool and a better view of the local labour market landscape. 

    The session facilitator advised us that employer stakeholders already had their consultation session, and some of what we were saying was the same as what the employer group was saying. 

    Our government colleagues are policy and program development experts. ASPECT's job is to provide practical experience by providing context with the client's needs as the focus. When we get invited to consult, we endeavour to do our homework in advance and come prepared with insight and solutions whenever possible. It will be interesting to see how much of our feedback makes it into the new CTB or if the CTB continues.

    If you are reading this and your organization is not a member, please consider joining us to support the work we do on your behalf. 

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO
    ASPECT BC


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