Employability, COVID-19 and Beyond: Building A Path Forward

February 18, 2021

On 18 February 2021, the Employment Resource Connections Action Group (ERCAG) facilitated a successful event for 87 front-line settlement and employment service providers. This was the action group’s 4th annual professional development event and the first virtual event held on Zoom. The event, titled ‘Employability, COVID-19 and Beyond: Building a Path Forward’ focused on employability throughout and ahead of COVID-19, and the future of the Canadian labor market. The video recording of the event can be found on YouTube linked above.

Meghan Wankel, the Chair for ERCAG, provided a short description of the Toronto West Local Immigration Partnership’s (TWLIP) work, followed by a comprehensive description of the ERCAG’s Employment Flyer Bank and video.

The event featured a keynote presentation from Christian Saint Cyr, Publisher of the Ontario Labor Market Report. Over the years, Christian has advised thousands of career professionals province-wide and regularly works with representatives of business, education, and government on developing proactive solutions to labor market challenges. Christian’s presentation at the event covered the labor market outlook during COVID-19, hiring and retention trends, future competencies, and occupations with strong future outlooks. This presentation was then shared with all attendees.

The event also included presentations from three panelists from the IT Sector, Supply Chain Sector and Health Sector:

1) Ashima Suri, Head of Operations at Presto
2) Tatiana Lazareva, Principal at Unicorn Experts
3) Christine Dubois-Cross, HR Professional at CAMH

The panelists presentations covered the hiring practices, trends during COVID-19 in their respective sectors, and advice for frontline staff on how to prepare their newcomer clients most effectively and competitively in accessing jobs and integrating into the workplace. Following these presentations, ERCAG Members Domenic Cutulle and Manoj Bhattarai facilitated an engrossing discussion between event attendees and panelists.

At the conclusion of the event, participants responded to a post-event evaluation survey. We received responses from 48% of the attendants, with 90% of them saying the event was ‘excellent’. Overall, the event was well received, with 80% of respondents saying the schedule/timing of the event was excellent, 92% saying that the keynote speaker presentation was excellent and 80% saying the same for the panel discussion.

Generally, the respondents of the survey said they enjoyed the keynote speaker presentation, actionable and relevant advice, and a spotlight on the trends the most. A few respondents recommended that the event should have been longer so participants could have had more time to interact with all speakers during the Q&A sessions. 87% of respondents said based on this event, they are ‘very likely’ to attend future events.

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