Communities of Practice

First Work is launching Communities of Practice (CoPs) to leverage the power of collaboration to solve some of Ontario’s stickiest workforce development issues. First Work’s Communities of Practice are designed to harvest knowledge from practitioners with on-the-ground experience to create and test solutions to Ontario’s workforce problems.

Join the Community – CoPs for ESPs

First Work’s CoPs for ESPs are seeking providers with varied experience in Second Career, Canada-Ontario Job Grant or Youth Job Connection or similar programs.

In joining the community, you are committing to leveraging your learned experience to improve employment outcomes across Ontario.

What is Community of Practice

Communities of Practice (CoPs) are groups of practitioners who convene regularly to identify common problems in their work and collaborate to create and trial new solutions.

Each of First Work CoPs will focus on a specific technical domain within Ontario employment services and will run from March-August 2021, centered around biweekly meetings co-facilitated by First Work and Purpose Co staff. 

Why are we launching CoPs?

At a time where the labour force and nature of work are rapidly changing, First Work is leveraging our power of collaboration to solve pervasive challenges by advancing tangible action for change.

The goals of this initiative are three-fold: 

• To identify and develop solutions to pervasive challenges  
• To conduct primary and secondary research about the needs and experiences of targeted program recipients  
• Advance tangible changes and actions within program guidelines

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First Work is developing five Communities of Practice (CoPs) in Ontario to better understand and identify actionable solutions for improved support for: jobseekers already distanced from the labour market prior to COVID-19, employers’ needs (talent and skills), Canada Ontario Job Grant (COJG) and YJC program pain-points, and evolving the Second Career program in order to more effectively meet the needs of laid-off workers and regional employers.

Second Career, the Canada Ontario Job Grant and Employment Ontario Employment Services alone make up over 750M annually. In all cases the objective of the programs align with community needs: Second Career – to retrain laid off workers, the Canada Ontario Job Grant – to train workers in employer required (demanded) skills; and Employment Services – to prepare vulnerable job seekers with required supports to prepare them for success in the labour market. Unfortunately, due to current rules, as well as the interpretation of rules and limitations among service providers, employers and policy makers, these programs do not meet their potential, and in many cases, the programs can set job seekers further back as they spend time in programs that do not get them closer to sustainable employment and economic self-sufficiency. 

What does a CoP look like in practice?

At a time where the labour force and nature of work are rapidly changing, First Work is leveraging our power of collaboration to solve pervasive challenges by advancing tangible action for change.

You will join a small group of practitioners (5-7) on a facilitated journey to trial and test solutions for issues related to employment services. You can anticipate…

• Biweekly meetings from March to August (~3hrs per month)
• Pilot ideas and solutions developed in the CoP and report back to group
• Related work to piloted solutions, bringing total monthly commitment to 5-10 hours per month

What is the benefit of participating in a CoP as a practitioner?

You’ll join fellow practitioners working on similar problems, with tailored input from best practices research and evidence to look at how similar problems have been responded to by others, and curated access to quantitative social research about the conditions of unemployment in Ontario during the COVID era and qualitative social research about individual Ontarians experiences of unemployment, the experiences they currently have in finding work and the barriers they face accessing services.

What is the benefit of participating in a CoP as an agency?

Your agency will have the opportunity to contribute to a conversation related to policy changes and have access to the most current research about unemployment in Ontario (aiding in needs assessment and program development process) and emerging, on-the-ground practices responding to Ontario’s most pressing employment issues.

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