Alignment with priorities and needs
The Program is aligned with the priorities and strategic outcomes of the Government of Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada. The Program aligns with the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour’s Mandate Letter, which tasks the Minister with ensuring “Canadians get the skills they need for good quality jobs … by working with provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous Peoples, the post-secondary education system, employers and labour to strengthen our training systems to build the human capital that Canadians and employers need.” At the level of individual projects, 55 of the 64 included in the evaluation were in a sector mentioned at least once in the Budget or Speech from the Throne between 2011 and 2017.
The Program and its projects respond to sectors’ specific needs to help reduce skills gaps and facilitate the connection between employers and potential employees. Funding recipients noted how the projects are designed to respond to needs and challenges in their respective sectors. Those needs include labour shortages, aging workforces, skills needs, and new technology and evolving job requirements. The Program also fills a niche for sector-specific, national-level labour market information, national occupational standards, certification, and accreditation products.
The Program is collecting performance data with a particular emphasis on outcomes. The Program monitors and measures progress toward its goals using standard grants and contributions monitoring reports, supplemented with an annual survey of funding recipients designed and implemented by the Program. The annual survey of funding recipients provides performance data that are tailored to the Program’s internal and corporate reporting needs. However, the evaluation found potential areas for improvement related to reporting burden, survey design, and data quality.
Stakeholder engagement and product dissemination
Generally, all projects have had high levels of stakeholder engagement from various groups in different ways. Stakeholder engagement was found to be an important part of product development and distribution. It helps ensure that the products reflected the needs and realities of the sectors. Stakeholders were involved in all projects, with the most commonly reported stakeholders being employers and employer associations. For example, funding recipients reported that between April 2015 and March 2016, their projects engaged with a total of 10,630 employers, 697 employer organizations, and 487 learning institutions. Stakeholders often assisted funding recipients with sharing and promoting the products to end-user beneficiaries in the sectors (e.g., employers, employees, students, job seekers, etc.).
Funding recipients and their stakeholders are completing dissemination activities. Key informants reported that products are reaching many intended end-user beneficiaries. Those aware of the products find them useful and timely. For example, funding recipients reported that 34,000 to 147,000 beneficiaries received labour market information each year between April 2013 and March 2016. While some projects were able to engage employees and job seekers in the development and testing of the tools, other projects found it more difficult to include these groups, suggesting they may not be as aware of the products or using them to their fullest potential.
Output completion and contributions to outcomes
The evaluation observed that projects are completing products as planned. For example, data collected directly from funding recipients via the fiscal year 2015 to 2016 edition of the Program’s annual survey of funding recipients indicated that funding recipients had completed or updated the following products:
126 labour market information reports;
40 labour market information forecasts and forecasting systems;
150 national occupational standards;
57 certification streams; and
12 accreditation programs.
Some evidence was collected for the evaluation that indicated products are being used and are contributing to systemic change in the labour market activities of some sectoral stakeholders. However, the evaluation found there is still room for continued growth in product use and contributions to systemic change in sectoral labour markets.
In 1 example of use and systemic change, national occupational standards developed for the truck transportation sector were used as the foundation for 1 province’s new mandatory entry-level truck driver training.
In the mining sector, products funded by the project were reported by key informants to be:
- improving the sector’s ability to attract and retain workers;
- assisting with workforce management;
- helping to balance labour supply and demand;
- strengthening linkages between employers and educational institutions;
- helping to align messaging around employment; and
- supporting decision-making by employers and training institutions.
Projects in the environmental sector helped to formalize the skills of students and employees through an updated and streamlined certification program. The funding recipient reported an increase of 1,375 certifications and strengthened support for certification renewal resulting from a project that focused on certification and accreditation. They reported that 105 of 158 applicants for the project’s new Sustainability certification were successful. In addition, 110 interns received their certification, which is expected to facilitate their transition from school to entry-level jobs in the sector. This aligns with the direction of the sector, which is reflected in the stronger preference by employers for employment candidates holding a certification. Shortly after the certification and accreditation project ended in April 2014, the funding recipient calculated that 40% of the jobs on their sector-specific job board specify a preference for candidates with certifications.
Observations on efficiency and economy
The Program design and activities demonstrate stewardship over contributions funds. For example, the Program negotiated reduced project budgets prior to project approval and instituted a 5% leveraging requirement for all projects. The Program has less than one half of the budget of its predecessor, the Sector Council Program, but products continue to be completed.
Recommendation #1: Explore ways to encourage funding recipients to strengthen product outreach and dissemination.
Recommendation #2: Explore ways to improve performance measurement and increase data validity while minimizing the burden on funding recipients.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Evaluation of the Sectoral Initiatives Program – Canada.ca