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 a 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.

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?

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 in:
  • 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
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.
 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.

First Work is seeking employment service providers with a diversity of experience in the sector to contribute to First Work’s Communities of Practice.

Apply to First Work’s CoPs for ESPs now.

Are you ready to increase your impact on Ontario’s employment landscape? We want YOU to apply for First Work’s CoPs for ESPs. Particularly if you are an employment services practitioner with experience in Second Career, Canada-Ontario Job Grant or Youth Job Connection or similar programs.

What else are we looking for in members of our CoPs for ESPs?

  • You are a newer or more experienced practitioner (We are looking for a diversity of perspectives!)
  • You have enough autonomy and support in your role to drive change and implement new solutions
  • You’re committed to tackling pressing issues in your focus area and affecting sustained change
  • You are eager and willing to collaborate with practitioners across the province to trial new ideas and test drive innovations
  • You can commit 5-10 hours per month between March-August 2021

CoPs Application Process

  1. Applications close February 12th, 2021.
  2. Review the webinar recording on First Work’s CoPs.
  3. Successful applicants will move to an interviewing stage. The interviews will further clarify the priorities and experiences of the sector and refine the focus of each CoP.
  4. Meetings will begin in late March and run biweekly until August. Each meeting will be designed and co-facilitated by First Work and Purpose Co.
  5. The outcomes of each CoP will be developed into easily-accessible communications materials in September, and then will be shared provincially.

What issues are we tackling?

You will join a small group of practitioners (5-7) on a facilitated journey in three areas of practice where CoPs would be useful related to employment services. These three areas, identified by First Work in collaboration with Purpose Co, have been developed via input from the 2020 Futures Conference and via conversations between First Work and its stakeholders. The focus areas are: Second Career, Canada-Ontario Job Grant, and Youth Job Connection.

YJC - We’re trying to solve how to better engage, support and motivate NEET youth to connect to sustainable employment and what enhancements to Youth Job Connection can support this goal.

How can employment programs for young people most effectively help them advance towards their career goals?​

COGJ – We're trying to solve how to better prepare unemployed people and current workers in need of upskilling for employer recognized in-demand skills and what enhancements to the Canada Ontario Job Grant (COJG) can support this goal.

How can COJG (and similar program funding) be leveraged to maximize economic mobility and career progression for incumbent workers and build talent pipelines for new entrants?

Second Career – We're trying to solve how to better support laid off workers and enhance Second Career to support this goal.

How can practitioners effectively serve laid off workers and help them choose retraining programs that lead to sustainable retraining / second career plans?