Design Jam Projects

We partnered with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to hold a series of Workforce Innovation “Design Jams” around the province in February-March 2017.
Over 110 people from across the workforce development sector took part in these fun, fast, and creative brainstorming sessions at 10 locations. Participants worked together to come up with new, innovative solutions to workforce development challenges in their regions.
We then sat down with potential collaborative teams and external partners to develop formal research proposals around the most promising ideas.
In a competitive peer review process, 8 out of the 16 proposals submitted were selected to be developed into research projects. Projects are expected to launch by mid-summer 2017.


Non-Profit Sector Pathways to Launch Careers

Lead Proponent: City of Kingston

Key questions:

  • Is there an opportunity for the non-profit sector to provide “first work” opportunities for early-stage career seekers, as a sort of “farm team” to feed the local talent pool?
  • Are non-profits able and willing to connect with educational institutions & other stakeholders to build clear pathways to help transition graduates and youth into the workforce?
  • How might a model developed for a career-launching pathway to non-profits also work to design career pathways to quality entry-level work and experience in other sectors?

Kingston, like most other communities in Ontario, is facing and will continue to face intensifying shortages of talent and skilled workers over the next decade. There exists a significant opportunity to build the local workforce by developing more effective channels for ‘tapping into’ the stream of thousands of graduates exiting annually from the local university, college and school boards. This project will explore new pathways to internships and “first work” opportunities as mechanisms for more effective engagement of this underutilized talent source.

Recruitment and Retention Approaches to Address Local Labour Force Shortages

Lead Proponent: Peel Halton Workforce Development Group

Key questions:

  • How can we collect and use local data to quantify the employer perception of a shortage of general labourer workers? 
  • How do we better understand and articulate employer and employee experiences of the issues related to this challenge? 
  • How do we better utilize existing capacity (e.g., local training resources) and cross-jurisdictional evidence to develop innovative solutions?

There is considerable anecdotal evidence that employers in the Town of Milton are having a hard time recruiting and retaining general labourer workers, particularly in the warehousing, distribution, logistics and manufacturing sectors. The objective of this project is to verify and quantify this issue, identify what contributes to this problem (knowledge about job openings or career opportunities, wages, presence of advancement opportunities, local transportation challenges, commuting distances, scheduling and other issues), and develop concrete responses to alleviate these challenges.

Building Capacity in Employment Services for Newcomers 

Lead Proponent: Fleming College

Key questions:

  • How can employment and training services help newcomers, particularly refugees, get and keep jobs? 
  • Which service approaches best meet the needs of these job seekers and local employers hiring newcomers?

This project will develop evidence-based approaches to build capacity in the employment and training sector and better match newcomers to jobs in Peterborough. The project will pilot 2-3 evidence-based practices to examine their effectiveness in overcoming the barriers that challenge or prevent newcomers from securing and retaining meaningful employment. The study will focus on the development of an innovative service model for newcomers in small to mid-size communities.

Demand-led Employer Job Resource Program

Lead Proponent: Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Key question:

  • How can more employers utilize the resources provided by Employment Ontario and other government agencies/non-governmental agencies, and how can they be better connected to them?

The project will develop and execute new approaches to a) connecting with service providers and/or accessing funding opportunities and b) providing education and sharing knowledge of market tools. Through the use of an upfront CRM system, a novel and extensive suite of engagement tools, and significant focus on marketing initiatives, the project will examine the capacity of a demand-led system to address skills shortages and talent recruitment difficulties.


Youth Works Mentorship Program

Lead Proponent: Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre

Key question:

  • How can a youth career mentorship program affect the career trends and leverage recruitment efforts for youth within the province? 
  • Can youth mentorship programs lower youth unemployment rates and increase enrollment in post-secondary programs?

Gateway Algoma is an online Youth Portal that allows youth (12-29) in the Algoma Region with the ability to easily access information pertaining to employment, health, schooling resources, certifications and training, volunteering, entrepreneurship, events and sport resources. This project will leverage the current Gateway Algoma platform to add a youth mentorship program that directly connects youth with current and future employers. The program incorporates mentor/mentee matching and training, post-secondary outreach programs, work shadow and career coaching experiences. Data will be collected on career preferences to assess the impact of targeted recruitment strategies on increasing interest in strategic areas (e.g., trades, ICT).

Inclusion Workshops for Employers

Lead Proponents: Anishinabek Employment and Training Services & Local Employment Planning Council

Key question:

  • What is the current knowledge level of inclusive practices in the Thunder Bay District? 
  • What skills or tools do employers need to move forward? 
  • What are best practices that can be shared?

Employers require effective tools and skills that can support inclusive hiring policies and procedures to ensure a diversified workforce. Building upon the work of the Opening Doors for You project, the LEPC in partnership with Anishinabek Employment and Training Services will develop a one day workshop to facilitate outreach and provide information to numerous employers, industry associations, sector groups and unions, regarding the issue of creating an inclusive and diverse workplace. Follow-up support for implementation will be provided to interested employers to assess the effectiveness and success factors of the approach and tools.