In a 2022 report published by the Future Skills Centre, examining an equitable post-pandemic recovery, the following four guidelines were suggested to enhance equity and inclusion in education, skills development, and employment across Canada:
- Youth aged 15-29 need catch up opportunities for personal and professional growth, as well as additional supports for learning recovery, mental health, and graduation.
- Indigenous communities require stronger social and physical infrastructure to recover equitably.
- There is a need for greater gender analysis in designing employment programs and for flexibility in education and work to help women recover equitably.
- Newcomers need employment and social supports to navigate through this stressful time.
Although NPower Canada has increased our age eligibility to provide opportunities for mid-career workers displaced by the pandemic, youth remains our priority. In 2022, 65% of our enrollees were between the ages of 18 to 30. Youth faced greater layoffs during the pandemic, finding themselves in some of the hardest-hit sectors such as hospitality, and have had fewer opportunities to gain experience amidst closures.
NPower Canada provides cultural wraparound supports to our Indigenous participants through our Indigenous Tech Career Pathways. We have partnered with Indigenous communities and leaders to create more inclusive programming to demonstrate tech as a viable career path for Indigenous individuals.
Additionally, NPower Canada has expanded our geographical reach in the provinces we serve. Applicants from anywhere in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia are able to participate in our programs, allowing us to reach individuals in rural and remote communities. Our virtual delivery model allows these individuals to work towards fulfilling and sustainable careers whilst still remaining close to their community.
According to the Regional Sounding Tours the Future Skills Center conducted to gain insight with employers, and education and skills stakeholders across Canada, “participants were concerned about what some were calling a “she-cession” as a result of the pandemic, with the economic and employment impacts falling more heavily on women.” These concerns are backed up by statistics that demonstrate that women were disproportionately affected by the pandemic, with many taking on additional responsibilities such as child and elder care.
NPower Canada prioritized the enrollment of more women in our programs, and we are happy to report that in 2022 51% of our enrollees identified as female. Our virtual delivery program reduces the barriers posed by elder and child care, as women are able to log on and upgrade their skills to pursue meaningful careers, from the comfort of their homes.
Time and time again, we hear from our newcomer participants that they were unable to secure a job due to their lack of Canadian experience. Skilled newcomers often end up working in roles they are overqualified for, as reported by the Future Skills Center, due to a lack of recognition of international credentials and discrimination and bias during the hiring process.
By enrolling in our programs, newcomers are able to gain Canadian experience, and learn the expectations of Canadian employers through our personal and professional development sessions. Moreover, they find a support system of like-minded individuals that cheer them along as they navigate a fresh start. In 2022, 56% of our participants were newcomers, including recent immigrants and refugees.
To achieve a “society for all” it is the duty of individuals, organizations, and governments to work together and make a commitment to promote social justice at regional, national, and international levels. At NPower Canada we continue to make strides to ensure that our programming is inclusive and equitable, providing support to underserved groups and contributing to social justice for all Canadians.
For a French version of this article, click here.