From the Top of the Ivory Tower

The view from the Top of the Ivory Tower must be clear some days, but more often than not, it appears to be clouded from the sheer distance those at the top have from the issues at hand.

The Canada Jobs Grant is most definitely the top of discussion in the Employment and Training Industry in BC.  Federal Conservatives, led by Jason Kenney and Stephen Harper, have made a unilateral decision to implement this strategy, regardless of the substantial objections of the provinces.

Jason Kenney has called those in our field who deliver services to the unemployed “special interest groups”. Really? Last time I checked we were an entire industry offering services to the unemployed. I think not Mr. Kenney.

Jason Kenney has stated that he has done exhaustive consultation on this initiative. Funny, absolutely no one I know in our industry was “consulted” on this matter. In my profession we have a word called “Stakeholder” and a process called “Stakeholder Consultation”, where all affected parties are asked for input. Play fair Mr. Kenney.

The Federal Government has argued that an employer-driven Canada Jobs Grant would provide a better way to prepare Canadians for available jobs. After all, who is in a better position to identify the skills training for their own hiring needs than employers themselves?  The provinces have argued that cutting funding for Labour Market Agreements programs that serve vulnerable people who have little connection to today’s labour market makes no sense. These programs give Youth, Aboriginals, New Immigrants, Older Workers, Single Parents and those with a Disability the essential skills required to find gainful employment. A recent provincial report showed that these programs have been quite successful in this goal: 87 per cent of clients in 2011-12 were employed following their programs compared to only 44 per cent at the start. Check your stats Mr. Kenney.

As someone who has worked in this industry for more than 23 years, I can attest to the Provinces’ arguments as having considerable merit. I have worked for the government, non-profits and the business sector in this industry. I have been a Career Practitioner, a Program Officer, an Executive Director and a CEO. I have seen first-hand how these programs affect the disadvantaged, also have worked as an Appeals Committee Tribunal Chair for the Provincial Government for 6 years, working with those receiving income assistance and disabilities benefits. I am well educated and in fact, a member of one of these groups…I am a Person with Disabilities and a single Mom. Mr. Kenney, I would say that I have some expertise in this area.

Our company has helped thousands of unemployed individuals return to the labour force. The everyday folks we help are not EI eligible and truly require extra help to get back on their feet. For the most part, they are not ready for a ticket to training and quick re-entry back into the workforce. And as an alumnus of Service Canada’s Self-Employment Program, helping new entrepreneurs is a passion that has led to assisting over 450 new businesses start up on Vancouver Island. How Strange Mr. Kenney. Who knew a business could assist those in need AND have some knowledge of what business needs.

We have all heard that LMA programming is not working. I beg to differ. Of all programming that I have worked with, and there have been many in my 23 years, it is by far the most cost effective. When I was a Program Officer, one of our main goals was to cut down on administrative and overhead costs with contracted funding, in order to allocate funds to the people who needed the money most – the Client. The target was Employment Centres, brick and mortar buildings where overhead and administrative costs were high. Yet if one takes the time to look, you will find that there is little if no administrative/overhead money available in LMA funding and budgets are extremely tight. You are getting the “best bang for your buck” Mr. Kenney.

We applaud those groups working hard to set the record straight and bring Mr. Kenney down a few floors from his Ivory Tower. See below.

Written by Deborah Bromley, CEO


 

LMA Works – Building Skills for Canada

The Employment Training Alliance (ETA), Canadian Coalition of Community – Based Employability Training (CCCBET), and ASPECT are pleased to announce the creation of a website dedicated to the promotion and preservation of unique, successful and responsive pan Canadian LMA programs. These programs offer valued services and opportunities for Canadians preparing for success in the labour market. This website will be a constructive demonstration of what works now with LMA funding and represents what could be lost if the Canada Job Grant materializes as outlined.

LMAWorks.com is a site created for individuals, organizations and employers that have first-hand experience with the important role that LMA programs play in communities from coast to coast to coast.

The site will be a repository for success stories, examples of best practices and provide for a dynamic exchange of support and suggestions for the continuation of adaptive, flexible and responsive LMA programming.

Email Chris Atchison, catchison@aspect.bc.ca with your name, logo, and website link to become a supporter of the LMA Works initiative.

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