A word from Sareena Hopkins, Co-Executive Director at the Canadian Career Development Foundation (CCDF) on the October 2 round table on the Canada Job Grant Program.
I am writing to report on the October 2nd Round Table on the Canada Job Grant (CJG) Program. First, I want to thank all who shared their thoughts and/or submitted written statements re: the proposed program. These were enormously valuable in shaping my perspective. Second, I want to note this as a bit of a watershed moment for our field. We have long bemoaned the fact that we have not had a strong policy/advocacy voice. The invitation to the CCCD by the Premiers to consult on this important issue was, in my estimation, a significant breakthrough and worthy of celebration!
Now…for the report:
The Round Table was co-hosted by Premiers Christy Clark (BC) and David Alward (NB). They were accompanied by their Ministers (Shirley Bond and Jody Carr) and senior executive. A full list of invited delegates is attached.
The Premiers opened the Round Table with statements that mirrored the FLMM’s Building Skills Together report. It was noted that the Premiers and their Labour Market Ministers had their own watershed moments, when all unanimously agreed on their position vis-à-vis the proposed CJG program. Key points emphasized during the Round Table included:
§ The Premiers and Ministers said in no uncertain terms that the “disconnect” between potential Canadian workers and industry need is the country’s most pressing priority and that skills training must be enhanced.
§ They acknowledged the critical importance of engaging industry more directly in skills training and are keen to collaborate with federal government on this front.
§ As it is currently formulated, the CJG program would represent a $300 million reduction in LMA funds available to critical programming for non EI-eligible citizens, including literacy, essential skills and career development programs that work. At this time of labour/skill shortages, an increase in funding in this area is needed – not a decrease;
§ Many delegates, including industry representatives, spoke to the need to enhance rather than reduce programming for those with low labour market attachment, marginalized citizens and those with barriers to employability;
§ The proposed program leaves little flexibility to meet the unique needs of SMEs and capitalize on innovative local training solutions and tailored programs that meet regional needs;
§ The proposed program will carry a significant administrative and financial burden for the provinces/territories and the current tri-partite investment model was not seen as realistic/appealing to industry representatives;
§ Accountability and evaluation of programming must be improved – the evidence-based research and metrics emerging from our field were noted as promising;
§ The specific nature and depth of labour/skill shortages must be better understood and communicated. Industry represented at the meeting unanimously stated that shortages in their fields are acute and in urgent need of attention, but acknowledged that educational/training and career paths into these high need areas has not been made transparent. Our field is an obvious partner in addressing this.
§ The notion of using the CJG program as a mechanism for re-branding and extending current LMDA programming, such as apprenticeship, was presented. This was acknowledged as a potential win-win in which LMA funds would be protected and LMDA programming potentially enhanced. More broadly, it was suggested that CJG could become a “brand” for a suite of industry-driven programs rather than limited to the current proposed program.
In reviewing your perspectives/submissions prior to this Round Table, I am confident that the substantive points you raised were reflected on October 2. I believe the career development field has much to offer in this ongoing discussion and I encourage you to engage in the discourse occurring nationally, provincially, regionally and/or locally. If you would like to discuss this further, of course don’t hesitate to contact me.
On behalf of the Canadian Council for Career Development
Canadian Career Development Foundation (CCDF)
202-119 Ross Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario CANADA K1Y 0N6
T: +613.729.6164 ext. 203