Ellen Tsaprailis, June 14, 2022

Carleton’s CRIW Integral Part of Federal Initiative to Better Facilitate Newcomers into In-Demand Labour Sectors

When newcomers seek employment in Canada, the services they are often provided are more a general assistance model instead of specific needs by sector. A new initiative by the federal government wants to assess whether a sector-specific approach to training and employer engagement improves newcomers’ employment outcomes.

A new partnership between Carleton’s Sprott School of Business’ Centre for Research on Inclusion at Work (CRIW), the World Skills Employment Centre and Recruit in Motion is born out of this Canadian government project called the Sector Specific Employment Initiative. Wholly-funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for $100M over the next three years, more than 700 newcomers are expected to benefit.

Luciara Nardon is a Professor of International Business at Sprott and the Director of CRIW who is heading up Carleton’s part of this initiative by gathering data to understand the impact of sector-specific approaches and figure out which processes are having the highest positive results.

“A lot of times services offered to newcomers are very general so whether you want to be a ballerina or an astronaut, you go through the same type of program,” says Nardon. “Sectors such as education, IT, and health care have very specific needs and it is important to provide training to newcomers in a way that is targeted to the sectors they want to work in. As they engage with employers, it’s important to target activities and newcomers focused on their sector instead of lumping everyone into one job.”

Luciara Nardon is a Professor of International Business at Sprott School of Business and the Director of Carleton University’s Centre for Research on Inclusion at Work (CRIW)

The 15 sectors that will be part of this project are: Finance, Non-for profit, Business Services, Construction, Information Technology, Public Administration, Health Care, Social Assistance, Transportation, Natural and Applied Sciences, Education, Retail, Waste Management, Hospitality and Tourism and Warehousing.

This community engagement projects aims to entice employers to hire internationally-trained individuals to improve employment outcome for newcomers to Canada.

It’s a service improvement grant,” says Nardon. “They have developed a new set of programs they are going to be delivering and we, as the research team, are informing the development of these programs and helping them assess how well the different components are working.”

Nardon and her team will collect data through surveys and interviewing front-line staff that are working directly with newcomers and the employers. There will be quantitative and qualitative data culled to generate a fulsome assessment.

“I spend a lot of my time trying to figure out what we need to know and what is the best way to know it,” says Nardon. “It is a participatory action research project with multiple cycles of improvement.”

These types of programs are generally not well-funded says Nardon and often the funding is dedicated to providing the program, so having the resources in this case to track the progress and define which service is providing impact will create real improvements.

Getting the chance to speak with newcomers and employers using the programs will help find the deficiencies such as certain important metrics not being tracked. If the system isn’t designed to allow for results being recorded properly, then Nardon says it does not mean the results are actually bad.

“In the end, it’s not as much as, ‘Oh look, you did this and it didn’t work,’ but here are the many iterations we went through and now this is the best version we have arrived at,” says Nardon. “I think the interesting thing about action research is that sometimes the most important action ends up being better monitoring and better tracking results.”

Centre for Research on Inclusion at Work (CRIW)
Carleton’s CRIW is a research centre at the Sprott School of Business. CRIW is focused on conducting and sharing research that advances diversity, equity and inclusion at work. Connecting academia with the broader community and making research findings available to the public, CRIW aims to advance knowledge and drive change for more inclusive workplaces.

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