County Workforce Partnership
Introducing our new pilot project
The County Workforce Partnership – a coalition of local organizations, the Prince Edward County Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, municipality of Prince Edward County, Prince Edward Learning Centre and Career Edge – has launched a new sector-based training program called H.E.A.T. (Helping Employers Acquire Talent).
In June 2017, the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities (MTCU) began accepting applications for a Sector Partnership Planning Grant (SPPG), which would support the development of a partnership between community stakeholders to support the innovation of sector-specific solutions and align spending with the workforce needs across Ontario. Those applications set out specific guidelines to assess the labour market, formulate a strategic plan and create a partnership. And so, the County Workforce Partnership was created. The workforce had to consist of at least one workforce planning group, like the Chamber and Community Development Department, and at least one educational institute plus three of the sector’s largest employers. The CWP did an in-depth analysis of the local agri-tourism sector, which comprised of farms, food and beverage processing, hospitality and tourism businesses. Then, the workforce hired two consultants to begin researching Prince Edward County and the existing data as well as conduct interviews with sector employers to better understand the struggles and successes in their businesses.
In March 2018, the CWP was invited to apply for funding for 1 of 10 SkillsAdvance Ontario Pilot projects and were approved in April 2018. The project was modeled after a similar WorkAdvance program in New York. The model, like HEAT, is meant to help adult jobseekers build sector-specific employability “soft skills” as well as essential and technical “hard skills” to help them obtain meaningful work. The CWP identified that in order for tourism and hospitality employers to acquire and maintain talented and motivated employees as well as strengthen the skills of existing ones, it would be essential to immerse participants in the culture of Prince Edward County.
SO WHY IS HEAT DIFFERENT FROM OTHER PROGRAMS?
The CWP wants to encourage employers to be guest speakers and share their vision and why they work in this industry to motivate new workers. H.E.A.T. will include a history of the County and what makes it special. The goal is to give current staff, and new staff, “the County experience” so they can see have insight on what the premium customer experience looks and feels like and what goes on behind the scenes. Once participants graduate from H.E.A.T., the goal is for employees to have a toolkit of how to be the ideal employee and be part of the PEC culture.
WAYS EMPLOYERS COULD BE INVOLVED
- Be part of the advisory committee- provide input and feedback on programming and curriculum; help problem solve the new program
- Refer applicants and incumbent staff for training
- Host experiential training sessions on site
- Be guest speakers and trainers
- Take on trainees and work with a job coach to make the most of the placement (the aim being to keep them as staff after the training period)
- We will need a commitment to take on trainees, as well as an endorsement of the training
- There is no minimum or maximum number of trainees; even if you can only commit to taking on one, it will make a difference
- Be licensed to operate in Ontario
- Comply with all applicable legislation, including federal/provincial human rights legislation, regulations, and any other relevant standards, Occupational Health and Safety Act, Employment Standards Act, freedom of information and protection of privacy legislation
- Have identified job vacancies or advancement opportunities in Ontario consistent with the workforce development needs of the sector
- Provide training placements in Ontario
- Maintain appropriate WSIB or alternate workplace safety insurance coverage and have adequate third party general liability insurance as advised by its insurance broker
- Place the participant on payroll and provide the same terms conditions and benefits as are provided to regular employees during the placement
- NOT hire his or her immediate family members, such as parent, spouse, sibling or child as a trainee;
- NOT be receiving government funds from any other source for the same participant;
- NOT use placement services to replace existing or laid-off employees
- NOT be an EO Employment Ontario service provider
- Bespoke training individualized for the sector
- Flexible training, unlike our existing programs with set guidelines and rules, this is a pilot, if we try something and it doesn’t work or needs to be tweaked we can change it (within reason), we will learn as much from what doesn’t work as from what does, but we need employers to tell us what worked for them
- Ready to work staff requiring less training time
- One on one job coaching for both employer and trainee
- Can help offset the cost related to lost productivity – ie if you pay staff to attend leadership training we can assist with that cost or if you assign a mentor to the trainee we can assist with the cost of the mentor’s wages
- Can assist new staff with the cost of uniforms, safety equipment, transportation, temporary childcare etc … these all help with retention
- Can assist with succession planning and “future proofing” by training existing “all star” staff in leadership/mentorship taking the training and onboarding burden off of managers/owners
- Job Coach can help advise on HR policies and procedures, can provide resources for WSIB and ESA concerns, can help resolve and mediate conflicts and problems in order to avoid quitting or termination
- Ongoing support when the placement is done, we want to be a part of your planning for success, we want to help sector employers who are largely small to medium owner-operated businesses bridge the gap – you have the vision, we help you plan how to hire, train and retain employees as needed
- Be referred by a community partner like PELC, CLPE or PELASS
- Contact Career Edge and speak with an Employment Counsellor
- Be an existing employee that has aptitude and interest in advancement in the sector
- Speak to local sector employers involved in the project
- Be unemployed, working less than 20 hours, precariously employed or employed with a low household income (as defined by the Low Income Cut-Off) OR
- Be an employee of a participating employer who is facing barriers to advancement or job retention
- NOT be participating in full-time training, education or any other government training intervention that covers the same type of training or costs
- Be a resident of Ontario and legally entitled to work in Canada
- Be 18 years of age or older
- For current employees of participating employers NOT be in senior management or executive positions or have a controlling interest in the business
- Have an interest in the Hospitality and Tourism sector
- 2 weeks training including workplace essentials as well as certificates in Service Excellence, Smart Serve and Safe Food Handlers
- Tours of local employers and tourist attractions in the County
- PEC specific Tourism Ambassador training
- Guest speakers and trainers who will inspire participants and demonstrate the career pathways that exist in Hospitality and Tourism
- Interview skills and “barrier busting” help with support to obtain necessities for the field like appropriate clothing, help with temporary childcare costs, criminal record and driver’s abstract checks, transportation costs
- Job Coaching before, during and after placement to help retain the job
- For current employees leadership and train-the-trainer training to offer a chance for advancement in the sector
- Career pathway planning and skills development beyond the placement
In late July 2017, The Prince Edward Learning Centre, PEC Chamber of Commerce, Career Edge, Community Development Dept. and Loyalist College Training & Knowledge Centre applied for a Sector Planning Partnership Grant. We are pleased to announce that we were successful in our application and are already immersed in our project to research the labour market in Prince Edward County.
As a result of this successful research grant, the 5 aforementioned organizations have formed the County Workforce Partnership (CWP), which will become a standing committee of the PEC Chamber of Commerce. The CWP must research the sector that is considered the largest economic driver in Prince Edward County, the CWP decided the links between agriculture and tourism (two largest sectors) in PEC are too great to choose one over the other, so we chose both. The CWP will now undertake funded research in order to:
- Understand labour market issues in the agri-food / tourism sector faced by both employers and employees in Prince Edward County
- Understand barriers which may hinder solutions to the issues identified
- Seek creative solutions to respond to labour market and training needs
- Ensure our strategy targets non-traditional labour sources and lower-middle skilled and / or marginalized unemployed job seekers.
We see this as a unique and exciting opportunity to think broadly and inclusively about our labour market
The CWP used labour market data which has already been collected via forums, surveys and workshops, as well as regional statistics, and actively collect local data where gaps exist.
We then held a half-day workshop for local businesses and partners where we presented our research findings. This workshop will be a celebration of what is already working as well as the start of new strategies and program ideas which will address the issues employers and employees are currently facing.
Our workshop on Agri-Food / Tourism workforce issues in Prince Edward County was a very productive morning which helped the Partnership gather information for our Strategic Plan.
Many thanks to all who helped organize, facilitate or who attended our event!
It is our intention to continue the County Workforce Partnership beyond this single research project by addressing other sectors facing labour market issues.
With the help of 2 contracted researchers, the CWP contacted PEC businesses and partners to dig deeper into our labour market issues.
We continue to ask for the support of our County businesses in our efforts to make sure that everyone who is able to work in Prince Edward County has the opportunity to do so, and that these employees are trained, engaged, and can stay the course.