Excerpts from: Metcalf Foundation Report: When Training Works: Promising workforce development practices – Danielle Olsen & John Maclaughlin

Metcalf Foundation’s newest report When Training Works: Promising workforce development practices profiles four workforce development organizations/partnerships, NPower CanadaBuilding UpElevate Plus Manufacturing, and ACCES Employment, that are connecting job seekers to good jobs. Authors Danielle Olsen and John MacLaughlin identify transferable lessons and insights from these four workforce innovators about how good training works.

When Training Works identifies the many transferrable lessons and insights about how good training works and highlights the promising practices that community-focused non-profit organizations are implementing to support the economic livelihoods of low-income people. Much can be learned from non-profit organizations that are doing innovative work. This report helps enhance the understanding of both practitioners and policy makers in designing and delivering workforce training.

As we move past the first phase of impacts from COVID-19 into what is likely to be a long and sustained recession,5 workforce development will need to play a critical role in Ontario’s economic recovery. It is critical that the province’s employment and skills training tools and levers be able to deliver responsive, creative, and flexible solutions that support both job seekers and employers.

The four workforce development programs profiled in this report offer many transferrable lessons and insights about how good training works. NPower Canada, Building Up, Elevate Plus Manufacturing, and ACCES Employment are each, in their own unique ways, impacting their communities by assisting both job seekers and local industries to achieve economic success.

In particular:

  1. They treat both job seekers and employers as customers and use industry-specific approaches to designing and delivering their programs.
  2. They focus on specific occupations within a particular industry sector, usually through applied training, industry certifications, experience, direct connections to jobs, and industry-specific postemployment retention support.
  3. They are highly experiential and use applied learning methods.
  4. They seek to connect people to jobs as effectively and efficiently as possible, using short-term skills training with direct sightlines to employment.
  5. They understand the needs of their local labour markets.
  6. They have robust screening mechanisms to decide who enters the program.
  7. They have a culture of caring and of being supportive.

Creating and operating these types of workforce development programs requires heavy lifting. These programs go well beyond the traditional notion of what constitutes job search assistance and retraining. Developing meaningful relationships with employers that can translate into sustainable jobs takes ongoing effort and diligence. Providing hands-on support to job seekers over extended periods of time increases caseloads for staff. Accessing funding that supports all aspects of these interventions is not simple. These types of programs do not adhere to the predefined and tidy check-boxes required by most funders.

Read the full report