What we set out to do
East Scarborough Works (ESW) was a pilot project run by East Scarborough Storefront under the Ontario Local Poverty Reduction Fund. The purpose of this foundational work was to:
- Understand what local systemshelped or hindered local people from getting local jobs being created as a result of public spending;
- Create a local workforce development networkthat included employers, unions, residents, employment organizations; and
- Prototype solutionsto system fragmentation.
Despite collaboration being strong in East Scarborough, many of challenges continue to stem from a fragmented system. There was consensus that the disconnect between jobs being created, people knowing about those jobs and access the right training for those jobs represents the number one challenge/frustration. Funding models were described as inappropriately competitive and inadequate or insufficient given the local reality. Other challenges noted include difficulties with access to appropriate social sector supports and prejudice and perceptions of local community
The information and conclusions outlined in this document come from a multiple method data collection strategy described in this Local Poverty Reduction evaluation report and includes insights from the end of pilot project Symposium: a summary of the reflections of the 100 players from across the system who worked through day-long exercise to articulate a seamless job-seeker to employer pathway and their part in it.
96% of key players in the system reported a belief that a local networked approach would improve employment outcomes for people living in poverty which means
A denser and more inclusive cross sector network surfaced insights from across multiple sectors. Specifically, players from across the network reported learnings:
- 91% reported learning about how they could support workforce development pathways
- 95% reported learning more about the pathways
- 96% reported gaining trust and confidence in the network of people working on developing the pathways
- 98% reported building new connections outside their usual network
Protoyping of three local network based solutions resulted in:
- 95 residents connected with sector specific training
- 66 residents to become employed locally through accessing training opportunities and the connections to employers engaged in the project
Recommendations for next steps include:
- deepening ways in which we work together and communicate with one another across all sectors (including and especially residents)
- figuring out what jobs are coming to the community and plan training and communications accordingly
- making sure that training is as accessible effective and relevant to jobs forecasted
- finding ways to integrate essential skills training as part of the employment pathway,
Employers, unions, trainers, social service organizations etc. all have an interest in skilled people being able and available to fill local jobs. They tend, however, to work in isolation from one another; together they make up a “place based system” that requires strengthening for each of the players in that system to be as effective as possible.
ESW successfully brought together 100 players who have a stake in successful workforce development in East Scarborough so that they could recognize both themselves and their role in the system, but also how they affected and are affected by the success of others
96% of key players in the system reported a belief that a local networked approach would improve employment outcomes for people living in poverty, which means:
- investing the time at regular intervals to learn the landscape in each sector;
- understanding the labour market;
- completing a sector-based analysis;
- developing relationships between employers, training organizations, wrap around supports and residents seeking employment;
- developing sector specific workback plans (ie forecasting jobs available in the future, identifying skills needed, putting in place appropriate training and reaching out to appropriate candidates to take the training and this be ready when the jobs are created);
Employers: The idea of hire local strategies is well received by anchor institutions and contractors responsible for local infrastructure projects.
Unions: Unions need new recruitment strategies to diversify their membership. Skilled trades unions are keen to enhance the reputation of the skilled trades as a desirable career path for young people. Challenges for unions include:
- Lack of connectionsby which to recruit local candidates;
- Lack of understandingby employment service providers and others about how unions work and what a qualified candidate is;
- Pre-apprentice programsthat too frequently don’t meet the needs of unions;
- Need for recruits/members who, may begin working locally, but are able and willing to work on any job site at any time;
Pre-apprenticeship programs: There are few pre-apprenticeship programs that are recognized by the unions. While some appropriate models exist, there is a tension between supporting local people to succeed and introducing recruits to and integrating them into long-established union cultures.
Employment organizations: Employment organizations, for the most part, feel that within the current funding models they are able to provide some good supports to help people to find work. Examples of effective approaches include employer incentives and paid job trial and training programs. Challenges to the success of employment service providers, however, include:
- A funding model that encourages competition between organizations rather than collaboration;
- Lack of local and timely labour market forecasting data;
- Piecemeal availability of appropriate job specific and essential skills training;
- Lack of lead timefrom employers to find and support the right candidates; and
- Critically, minimal resources available to offer ongoing/wrap around supportsonce a job seeker has secured employment.
The Storefront convened a meeting of all of the key players who were connected to the project at its launch (see Network Map January 2016) and then again, 3 years into the pilot project (See Network Map November 2018). The network maps of these two sessions demonstrate a stronger network connected to workforce development pathways as the project ends. The fall symposium network map shows not only a larger number of stakeholders who have become engaged, it also shows a denser network with a larger number of individuals holding more connections, both critical indicators of success. (See Network Map )
Participants in the network self-reported on whether they benefited from working in this larger network and what those specific benefits were:
- 91% reported learning about how they could support workforce development pathways;
- 95% reported learning more about workforce development pathways;
- 96% reported gaining trust and confidence in the network of people working on developing the pathways;
- 98% reported building new connections outside their usual network;
At the end of the three-year pilot, The Storefront hosted a fruitful and highly successful symposium with 100 strategic players from across the labour, employment and support system. Through a carefully designed set of collaborative exercises, together, these players did a deep dive into the strengths, opportunities and challenges of workforce development in East Scarborough the findings of which The Storefront is using to guide our work moving forward.
Overall, the greatest strength identified in East Scarborough is the pioneering networked approach to collaboration for workforce development. Clear examples of promising practices in specific training models and some good access to training and wrap around supports were also acknowledged.
Despite collaboration these strengths in East Scarborough, however, too many of challenges continue to stem from a fragmented system. There is consensus that the disconnect between jobs being created, people knowing about those jobs and how to access the right training for those jobs together represent the number one challenge/frustration to success. Funding models for employment supports were universally described as inappropriately competitive and inadequate or insufficient given the local reality. Other challenges noted include difficulties in accessing appropriate social sector supports and attitudes of prejudice towards and ignorance of the assets of the local community.
Those in critical roles, whether public private, or non-profit players, from across what is in effect the East Scarborough workforce development eco-system were consistent in recommending that we focus on four things:
- expanding and deepening the ways in which we work togetherand communicate with one another across all sectors, including and especially, with residents;
- determining what jobs are coming to the communityand plan both training and communications for and about them accordingly;
- ensuring that training is as accessible, effective and relevantto the jobs being forecast;and
- identifying ways to incorporate essential skills trainingas integral part of the employment pathway.