Report comes from Ontario’s recognition for economic restructuring and investing in education and skills training, helping newcomers gain the skills, credentials and recognition to participate in the labour force. Sector specific bridging programs are an important part of this strategy. Province is now looking at integrating all the employment training programs under the responsibility of MTCU, one reason they were interested in this research.
Toronto Workforce Innovation Group works to ensure that Toronto is prepared to meet the demands of a changing economy. Our priority is to match the skills in demand with the supply of workers available and build a resilient, competitive and talented workforce. We do this by:identifying workforce issues that are characteristic of the local community; andproviding collaborative solutions by engaging stakeholders and working with partners.Because we cover all sectors -- not just one or a select few-- our neutral position allows us to quickly connect the appropriate partners for the common good. We define innovation as creating value and improving the social and economic well being of all residents who live, work and play in Toronto. We envision Toronto prospering from an inclusive and integrated workforce. Who we are: non-profit, Board of Directors representing labour market groups, member of Workforce Planning Ontario; one of 25 local planning groups funded by the province to identify the skills training/adjustment issues in our local labour markets and work with community partners on initiatives to address those issues.
One of the significant things we do is publish an annual Labour Market Update. This report is based on census data, One of the things in this report is an analysis of the gap between supply and demand in Toronto. The report highlights four major themes that impact Toronto’s industrial sectors and inform workforce development; diversity, including age, ability, immigrant or newcomer status; green economy – corresponding to the Province of Ontario’s focus on green jobs and an emerging green marketplace; economic transformation – the change from a manufacturing economy to a service economy, and; technological change.
For the TOP report we attempt to consult and involve all the groups in this graphic. Because we are a neutral body, our research presents a balanced picture of the issues. Typically, in the TOP report we discuss labour market integration from the perspective of specific populations such as youth and newcomers.
This report, researched and written by Tom Zizys, illustrates the growth of the creative or knowledge class at the same time that the middle class continues to shrink.
This report deepens the work begun in the “hourglass” report by looking specifically at the impact of the rapid expansion of the knowledge sector on newcomers, youth and women. This report led directly to our later research, Promising Practices.
Wanted to look at best or good practices from perspective of providers to understand what the concerns are of providers and their staff.Wanted to see if there were specific skills sets that providers felt were critical to the success of bridging programs in meeting needs of IEPsWanted to look at what models of bridging programs were in use and if there were differences in outcomes.Other stakeholders included:TRIEC, Maytree, Consortium of Agencies Serving Immigrant Professionals (CASIP), Bridging Coalition, Connect and union education centres, Global Experience TorontoRegulatory bodies that work with newcomer professionals are Professional Engineers Ontario, CARE for Nurses, Ontario College of Pharmacy
Colleges Ontario – noted that immigrant programs are a wise investment for the sustainability, stability and growth of businessesPublic Policy Forum reported on the advantages of hiring immigrants such as the ability to speak multiple languages, newcomer networks, ability for the business to expand into multicultural markets.Challenges identified in much of the literature, several of the reports done by the Progress Career Planning Institute over the last few years on employer practices noted that employers are favourable to hiring IEPs, but don’t integrate the recruitment, hiring and retaining of IEPs into their growth strategies. Don’t develop specific strategies for attracting and keeping IEPs. “Only a minority of the firms contacted had tangible, IEP-friendly policies and programs”.Some of the exemplary employer strategies noted through the research included:Training in diversity management for employers and management to increase cultural competency and inclusivityProviding coaching and support for IEPs in the workplaceCreating an inclusive work environment that promotes cultural understanding
Soft skills – ability to work with diverse populations, ability to manage relationships, sensitivity to IEP experienceCoaching support included helping clients access job banks, contact employers, post resumesStrategies that helped IEPs find success included:Networking with colleagues in the workplaceImproving English and communication skills by practicing in the workplace with co-workers and managersAttending professional development sessions provided by the employerHaving a thorough orientation to the workplaceEmployer provision of English language/communication skills upgrading Ease of contact and continuity of contact was important for IEPs, programs that had one contact person or point of contact for clients were most effective; programs with unlimited coaching support to help clients become “project managers” with their employment search as the project were seen as useful. Jobs are beginning to blur and job developers also act as coaches and employment consultants. Strategic hiring for these positions is key. External instructors often provide the sector-specific knowledge and experience, although that is not as helpful for the clients as an instructor who stays with the program and knows the sector. Staff identified the need for more training on cultural nuances, sensitivity to various cultural practices.
Bridging programs were seen as most successful when they integrate language training and sector specific skills upgrading and provide language learning and practice in all course delivery – a consistent, sector-specific approach to learning language and technical skillsThe lack of language skills has a direct impact on the client’s confidence and IEPs are frustrated when they invest limited resources in generic language programs, ESL, that don’t lead to jobs in their fields of expertise. This doesn’t make the IEP more marketable.As an example, in one of the colleges, in each technical course students were required to do presentations, sector specific documentation exercises and participate in debates. All of those assignments build the student’s confidence and ability to work in the sector at the same time, providing applied learning opportunities.Online learning/training programs helped to address problem of transportation, but couldn’t address the variety of learning styles and levels of ability.
Huge range of organizations and institutions offering bridging programs but it is difficult for clients to find the “right” program. Some providers talked about the need for an online database with streamlined information for IEPs that would make it easier for them to find the proper program. There was discussion about IEPs shopping around for the best fit and being unsure about their choice of provider or program.IEPs saw the post-secondary institutions as the most credible and legitimate institutions, especially if they were looking for specific technical skills and experience. Research found that college/university staff often lack IEP-sensitive training and don’t always know how to refer the IEP to the correct contact. At one university, all entry advisory department staff are trained to send IEPs directly to the bridging program staff.Global Expereince Ontario, part of the government, is a one-stop centre for a range of services for IEPs. They provide information about specific regulatory bodies and can explain the process for licensing and registration in Ontario.
Skills shortages in combination with highly specialized training attract employer engagement – example, Toronto Financial Services allianceInternships, job placements and practicums are also useful interventions in allowing employers and potential employees to learn about each otherThis was a frequent issue and identified as the key to successful bridging of clients into commensurate employment.Programs that involve employers at the outset in all the design and delivery aspects of the program reported successful employment outcomes for clients, as an example, JVS’s Coaching to Career Program involves employers in a central coaching role through the program.Educating employers about recruiting, hiring and retaining IEPs was seen as a good investment of staff resources as a good experience often means an employer will return to hire more clients. A central database for employer/client matching was seen as a potentially useful tool and this is an approach being tested by CASIP. CASIP markets clients collectively through their website.Internships, practicums, job placements were also identified as useful tools in the search for commensurate employment.
Just partnered on workshop with MBSThis surfaced as key for both employers and clients. Employers were interested in the possibility of receiving support with retaining and training a new hire while the clients appreciated the opportunity to continue to get support from their program provider.Providing support aids retention and when resources were allocated to this the feedback was very positive from employers. In one instance, staff visits IEPs at their workplace and helps develop formal training models. In another example, at a university, a program ran workshops for employers on managing and retaining IEPs.
Industry specific challenges arose as some sectors, such as tourism and ICT are vast and consist of many different professions and job titles, which led to curriculum challenges.Another theme that stood out was the difference in regulated and non-regulated sectors. This was due to:Licensing proceduresComplicated processes to navigateHow cooperative the regulatory bodies are in working with IEPs, agencies and instutitionsMuch harder for IEPs to access the regulated sectors such as nursing, midwifery, pharmacy, engineering in which you have to be certified and/or licensed in Ontario or pass the Ontario qualifying exams.
Strong senior management and/or senior leadership was identified as a success factor for many of the staff. One participant said that the success of their bridging program was based on having a consistent, small group of long-term senior managers who are supportive and work well together.Leadership and vision at the senior level in some cases led to an expansion of bridging programs after an investment in feasiblity studies and engaging all relevant stakeholders.In programs where staff felt encouraged by management, there were positive outcomes for IEPs, here compensation was linked to supporting quality service delivery to IEPs.Another program saw value in the championship of the program by senior management.
The model chosen was central to the success of a program and the research identified a number of models in use, including:Relying on the organization’s internal employer network for IEP employmentA functional model based on one used by the military that cuts across an organization and ensure standardization in curricula and customer servicesHolistic models that integrated technical training, language training, employment supports and essential skills training and included post-employment supportA Train the Trainer model operated by a college in partnership with a sector council that was connected to the industry.Using an existing model with positive outcomes and tailoring it to fit the needs of IEPsCollaborative networkingStrong, stakeholder engagement and/or partnerships
Mentoring – connecting clients directly to employers, example of speed mentoring practiced by some employment agencies where clients get practice “selling” themselves to prospective employers; Technical skills were easier to learn than “street smarts” and mentoring provided the street smarts, applied learningCoaching came in various methods includingUsing people from the sector as coaches such as electricians, engineers, etc.Job placements, internships, practicums all good methods of getting Canadian work experience and enhanced by good coaching either on the job or through the programAny experiential opportunity to apply skills in Canadian context was positive and useful
1. Any and all types of employer engagement are critical. Some of the practices mentioned were:Involving employers at the outset in all aspects of the programApproaching employers collectivelyUsing an employer databaseOrganizing employer-based eventsUtilizing multiple levels of employer engagementOffering post employment support to employers2. Networking and collaboration rather than isolation and competition help IEPs – programs should share best practices and collaborate and coordinate so clients have seamless system3. Staff training –need either staff trained and experienced in the specific sector or staff with access to continuous upgrading and learning opportunities4. Good, reliable, current labour market information is critical for the IEP in their job search – hard to find information and staff spoke to the need for a centralized portal or regional portals for IEPs with centralized information about bridging programs. Providers should use good labour market information to determine in which sectors to offer programs, where there is a demand or skills shortage and/or hold stakeholder consultations to assess a programs best shot at success. Program content often determined in silos and that doesn’t help IEPs find commensurate employment.
Promising Practices: Connecting Internationally EducatedProfessionals with Sector-Appropriate Employment Presentation to ICE Committee November 21, 2012 1 12/11/2012
Promising Practices:The intent of the research was to clarify the practicesthat are working well in terms of meeting the needsof highly skilled IEPs so they attain appropriateemployment.The study focuses on information gathered from 35organizational and staff interviews.The emphasis was on front-line workers and theirabilities to deliver bridging programs 8 12/11/2012
Literature ReviewMany sources were consulted in the course of theresearch including: The Conference Board of Canada Colleges Ontario Public Policy Forum Toronto Immigrant Employment Data Initiative, (TIEDI), York University Progressive Career Planning Institute 9 12/11/2012
Findings from the ResearchSkills Sets and Knowledge of Front-line staff Soft skills identified as core skill set for employment counselors, job developers and program managers Coaching support seen as criticalKey Competencies – marketing, sales and networkingabilitiesSector Specific knowledge/sector specific experience 10 12/11/2012
Technical Language & Communication Skills Most successful programs include language and communication learning related to sector – not generic ESL Some programs have on-line pre-training for technical programs – can be challenging for IEPs 11 12/11/2012
ProvidersPost-secondary institutions seen by clients as mostlegitimate and credible but don’t always provideculturally sensitive counsellingNon-profit providers are useful for IEPs looking forgeneral information rather than sector-specifictraining 12 12/11/2012
Employer EngagementKey to successful bridging – more that it happensupfront the better; engaging employers in design anddelivery of program helpsEmployers may need “education” in the business casefor hiring IEPsEmployers report not wanting to be contacted bymany providers, central database preferable 13 12/11/2012
Post Employment Support Providing support to employers may aid in employee retention – resources must be allocated Promising practices include visits to workplace, holding workshops for employers on managing and retaining IEPs 14 12/11/2012
Sectoral Differences: Regulated and Non-Regulated Sector specificity is critical In non-regulated sectors emphasis was on employment In the regulated sectors programs focused on helping clients prepare for qualifying exams and licensing 15 12/11/2012
Leadership & Management SupportStrong leadership and management support lead tosuccess in attaching IEPs – “management encouragesus to expand our knowledge and experiment”“Always looking at how to improve” 16 12/11/2012
ModelsEmployer engagement through agency’s built-innetworkInclusion of strong partners - mentoringHolistic and comprehensive – includingtechnical, communication and employability skillsCollaboration - CASIP 17 12/11/2012
Common ComponentsMentoringCoachingPracticumEmployer Engagement 18 12/11/2012
Lessons LearnedInvolving employers in all aspects of program designand developmentCollaborate or collective approach to employersMentoring, internships, job placementsStaff trainingStaff with sector-specific knowledge and experiencePost employment supportValidity and accessibility of labour market information 19 12/11/2012
Thank you For more information www. workforceinnovation.ca Phone: 416 934-1653 Fax: 416-934-1654Address: 215 Spadina Avenue, Suite 350 Toronto, Ontario M5T 2C7 20 12/11/2012