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  • January 06, 2023 11:33 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Welcome back to those of you who were able to get a break over the holidays and a pat on the back for those of you who have been proposal writing this week. Here are a few updates for you:

    Recruiting for 1 New ASPECT Board Member

    We are looking for one new board member to round out our leadership team of 9 and are now accepting applications. Go to our website for more information and to apply. 

    ASPECT Report Makes CERIC's CDP Top 10 for 2022

    Kudos to everyone involved in the creation of the Refocusing the Urban Lens for Rural & Remote Employment Services report. Our work made it to CERIC's list of 10 notable career development reports from 2022. To be recognized amongst the OECD, LMIC, the Brookfield Institute, and the Canadian Career Development Foundation is a huge accomplishment. Thanks to Lindsay Purchase and CERIC for this recognition.

    At the next ASPECT member meeting on January 18, we will discuss further knowledge mobilization efforts for this research. 

    Finally, ASPECT president Val Meaney and I will present at CANNEXUS on Tuesday, January 24, from 1:30 - 2:30 pm. We are excited to take your voices to a national level as we inform decision-makers to re-focus the urban lens on employment programs. As an ASPECT member, you can register at a discount as a "supporting organization" for both the in-person and virtual conference. 

    Career Development Professional Centre Basics Training 

    At CANNEXUS, this year will be the official announcement for the CDP basic training program. It will be a fully self-paced, self-guided course that is freely available. The penultimate training sessions will take place in person. I am delighted to announce that ASPECT and the BC Career Development Association will host these sessions. The first one will be in Vancouver and follow the BCCDA Symposium. The other 3 will take place in Nanaimo, Kelowna, and Prince George, with each cohort comprising 15-20 students. I know you are all very excited about the prospect of this training. More info is coming in about 3 weeks.

    In the meantime, go to the Career Development Professional Centre website to sign up for updates: 

    As you can see, it is a busy time of year. I haven't mentioned our continuing work to introduce ASPECT to new BC ministers and public service staff, which continues throughout this month and the next.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO

  • December 22, 2022 1:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    At yesterday's member meeting, we acknowledged that employment service providers are feeling particularly fatigued this year. We all know the reasons, some of which are the increasing complexity of the job requirements, workload due to staff shortages, RFP deadlines, changing labour market needs, the uncertainty of future contracts, and rising costs in general. Sharing these challenges is an important part of healing, but we also shared some of the things that we do for ourselves: 

    1. Meditation & Mindfulness - there are lots of great apps to get you started, such as Headspace, Calm, and MindShift CBT. There are good free resources on YouTube too.

    2. Take a walk or a hike outside. Why not try forest bathing?

    3. Exercise. It boosts energy, improves mood, and can help you sleep better, according to the Mayo Clinic.

    4. Connect or reconnect with friends and family. Don't feel up to calling or messaging? Try sending memes or a link to a funny video to let them know you're alive.

    5. Massage therapy. Can't find an RMT available? There are lots of "how to" resources and videos online.

    Whatever you celebrate at this time of year, please take some time to focus on your needs and have a happy holiday!

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO

    Meme source: @artmemescentral

  • December 09, 2022 11:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Photo source: CBC News

    Last week's cabinet shuffle has produced some new political leaders and a new ministry name. Whenever there are new cabinet members, ASPECT springs into action to meet with the new ministers to inform them of your work. 

    The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training is now called the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills. Former Finance Minister, Hon. Selina Robinson has taken on this portfolio (including foreign credentials recognition) and is supported by Hon. Andrew Mercier, who continues as the Minister of State for Workforce Development. Hon. Mercier presented at the ASPECT conference last month.

    The ministry mandate letter outlines the complete work plan, but here are some items you might find interesting:

    • Recognizing the global trend of labour shortages, deliver StrongerBC’s Future Ready Skills plan with clear actions to continue expanding access to affordable, accessible, and relevant training, so British Columbians have the skills they need for the jobs of the future.
    • Explore the expansion of the Single Parent Employment Initiative.
    • With support from the Minister of State for Workforce Development, lead work to recruit and retain people to build a skilled and flexible workforce in B.C.’s changing economy, and support career paths for skilled immigrants and services that give immigrants and refugees a strong start.
    • With support from the Minister of State for Workforce Development, strengthen resources for the evaluation of skilled immigrants’ credentials, including the Credential Assessment Improvement Fund.
    • With support from the Minister of State for Workforce Development, take steps to ensure our government is able to respond quickly if private institutions promote or offer sub-standard education to international students, and develop protections for international students that support their fair treatment across the sector.

    The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction has a new leader, Hon. Shelia Malcolmson. who previously served as Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. The ministry mandate letter items that may interest you are as follows:
    • Update the Poverty Reduction Strategy by March 2024, to continue reducing the number of people, and in particular children, who are experiencing poverty in our province. • Lead work with support from the Minister of Finance to continue addressing impacts on low-income people caused by cost-of-living increases related to global inflation.
    • Given rising costs of food, continue to lead work on food security and dignified access to food in partnership with food producers, grocery stores, food banks, schools, and not-for-profits, with support from the Minister of Agriculture and Food and the Parliamentary Secretary for Community Development and NonProfits. 

    Although most of ASPECT's advocacy work is done with the above two ministries, we also consult with the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation, (new minister Hon. Brenda Bailey), Parliamentary Secretary for Community Development and Non-Profits (new Ms. Megan Dykeman, MLA), and Ministry of Education and Child Care (new minister Hon. Rachna Singh). 

    Finally, when resources allow, ASPECT tries to meet with the opposition and their shadow cabinet members. As a non-political organization, ASPECT works with everyone to ensure that all people have access to quality community-based workforce development services that support their opportunity to achieve a meaningful and sustainable livelihood. (see our vision and mission on the ASPECT website)

    For a complete listing of the new cabinet members and their mandate letters, go to the government website.

    Janet Morris-Reade, CEO

  • December 02, 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

  • November 15, 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

  • November 10, 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


  • October 28, 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

  • October 21, 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

    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.

  • October 14, 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

  • October 07, 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

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