A Commitment to Research and Innovation.

OFE is known to be innovative, data-rich, evidence based and statistically driven for the purpose of using
the valuable information we collect, from over 3500 job seekers each year, to inform program decisions,
analyze and improve services and align our resources with activities that result in helping more people
find employment each year. As we help Manitobans connect with good jobs to promote steady eco-
nomic growth, we do so one life at a time; a life changed with meaningful employment.

A History of
Innovation

OFE’s Department of Research and
Innovation is a hub of activity, produc-
ing employment programming models,
tools and data that is influencing the
landscape of employment services in
Manitoba and resulting in increased
employment rates, growth and produc-
tivity in our local economy, reduced
reliance on social supports and lower
costs to government.

Demand Led
Program Research

Explore industry based employment devel-
opment programming, which is responsive
to the needs of employers with a change in
focus from traditional supply-sided
programming to a demand-sided orienta-
tion. Working closely with local employ-
ers, government and our research partners,
we have developed and tested new and
innovative recruitment strategies and
training solutions to fill vacancies and
increase employee retention in the local
labour market.

Stages of Change
Research Study

As a leader in research and innovation in
the employment development field, OFE
tested the application of the Stages of
Change Model and the Motivational
Interviewing techniques with over 2000
program participants. The study results
included decreased program attrition
rates, increased employment and
increased longitudinal employment
retention rates.

A History of
Innovation

OFE’s Department of Research and
Innovation is a hub of activity, produc-
ing employment programming models,
tools and data that is influencing the
landscape of employment services in
Manitoba and resulting in increased
employment rates, growth and produc-
tivity in our local economy, reduced
reliance on social supports and lower
costs to government.

Demand Led
Program Research

Explore industry based employment devel-
opment programming, which is responsive
to the needs of employers with a change in
focus from traditional supply-sided
programming to a demand-sided orienta-
tion. Working closely with local employ-
ers, government and our research partners,
we have developed and tested new and
innovative recruitment strategies and
training solutions to fill vacancies and
increase employee retention in the local
labour market.

Stages of Change
Research Study

As a leader in research and innovation in
the employment development field, OFE
tested the application of the Stages of
Change Model and the Motivational
Interviewing techniques with over 2000
program participants. The study results
included decreased program attrition
rates, increased employment and
increased longitudinal employment
retention rates.

A HISTORY OF INNOVATION

OFE has a 20+ year history of successfully engaging with Employment and Income Assistance recipients
and other individuals, who may be facing multiple barriers to employment. These individuals often encoun-
ter significant difficulty in obtaining and maintaining employment and may present with motivational
issues. As such, OFE has evolved as an innovative hub to develop and test new employment development
practices, designed to improve the labour market success and quality of life of low skilled and low income
Manitobans.

As the Manitoba Government continues to employ strategies to ensure that the province has an adequate
supply of labour to support economic growth, one area of focus is to increase the labour market engage-
ment of people from under-represented groups. As employers begin to look to broaden recruitment strat-
egies, they are seeking to engage people from these groups such as the Aboriginal population, youth
(18-29), mature workers, EIA recipients, persons with a disability and newcomers/refugees.

Employers are often unprepared to work with an individual with multiple barriers to employment. In some
cases, employers may need assistance to improve their capacity to build a sustainable workforce. These
two challenges provided an opportunity for innovation, creativity and development of a new approach to
employment assistance services.

OFE is successfully engaging with employers to help them navigate this new terrain and create successful
matches. The key elements of these new project models include assessment, engagement in employment
development and essential skills training, technical training, work experience, mentorship, intensive job
coaching and post-employment support to both employers and job seekers. The models are designed to
foster “job keeping” skills and result in long- term employment and increased earning capacity.



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DEMAND LED PROGRAM RESEARCH

In recent years, we have partnered with the Manitoba Government and Social Research Demonstration
Corporation (SRDC) to participate in two research studies.

Employer Partnership Program

Employer Partnership Program

OFE designed and delivered an innovative program, which addresses the specific needs of both the employee and the
employer, creating successful and sustainable matches by developing a dual
customer approach.

In this research study, the key element of the research is to assess the benefits of using a milestone
approach, to encourage service providers to be innovative and creative within the way they work with the
participants; allowing them to assist participants who are further away from the employment continuum.
Using milestones, we measure gains and activities at nine different stages of the project continuum; reflect-
ing the progress of individual job seekers, celebrating successes along the way and allowing us to engage
with job seekers who require employment development and essential skills training.

A Successful Partnership

We have developed a successful partnership with Canada Goose, maker of high quality,
in demand winter outerwear. Canada Goose is expanding nationally, and Winnipeg was
chosen as an expansion site. The original location had 400 employees and in October
2015 they hoped to open a second plant in Winnipeg but feared a shortage of workers
would prevent that from happening. By partnering with the Manitoba Government and
subsequently, the OFE program, 188 new employees were trained and added to their
workforce, filling the second plant and causing consideration of a third. Currently,
OFE participants represent over 40% of the entire Canada Goose Manitoba workforce.

OFE’s strongest contributions to the partnership are in the employment development and
occupational specific essentials skills training and in the one-on-one support provided
in person and on site by the Employment Coach. Canada Goose has been so pleased with our
partnership that they have increased their number of OFE participants entering the
training centre from seven to 20 per month. Additionally, they were expanding the lines
at the second location and as said earlier, were considering a third Winnipeg location
in the future.

Post research, the Canada Goose – OFE partnership has continued and on September 11, 2018,
Canada Goose opened its third and newest production facility in Winnipeg, which will make
Canada Goose the largest apparel manufacturing employer in the province, employing more
than 20 per cent of the Cut & Sew Industry in Canada. To date, over 550 people have been
hired at CG through the OFE program and we continue to partner together to place another
550 people with this local manufacturer by 2020.

The Milestone Approach

As mentioned, a key element of the innovative Employer Partnership Program is the integration of a mile-
stone approach. SRDC defines milestones as the short-term ‘in-program’ outcomes that are directly con-
nected to provider practices and thus largely within provider control. Performance milestones identify key
transition points that, when reached, are hypothesized to be associated with further progress of the partic-
ipant and ultimately longer term labour market success. A milestone process such as this also encourages
service providers to work with those furthest from the labour market.

The milestone approach

  • Allows us to establish a credible starting point for all job seekers, including those
    with complex needs, and a rigorous way to measure progress towards sustainable
    employment.

  • Is both rigorous and inclusive.

  • Stimulates innovation such as the shift towards demand-informed service models
    and delivery of workplace-specific essential skills training.

  • Funds innovation when earned incentives are reinvested in the service/organization
    by the service provider.

  • Adds value by shifting the focus from activities (e.g. resume writing) to outcomes
    such as progress towards sustainable employment.

  • Identifies short-term ‘in-program’ outcomes that are directly connected to provider
    practices and thus largely within provider control.

  • Offers the provider incentives for helping clients reach key milestones.

By combining the milestone approach with a pay for performance approach, funders:

    • Incentivize providers to develop innovative practices to connect individuals with lower skills to sustainable employment.
 
    • Reward providers for helping clients reach key milestones along employment and learn- ing pathways – thus providers have incentives/funds to experiment with new ways of delivering programs and create infrastructure to support future innovation.
The milestone approach provides a framework to measure progress along an employment services contin-
uum. The approach has increased our capacity to monitor and continuously improve our own performance
at each measurement stage thereby generating better results for job seekers and the employer partner as
well as improving employee performance.

Building on the success of the Employer Partnership Program creates new capacity and opportunities for
individuals with varying levels of attachment to the labour force and to the needs of Manitoba employers
as they seek new and innovative recruitment strategies, training solutions and human resource manage-
ment practices to fill vacancies and retain productive employees.

We are currently seeking to expand our efforts and include other employers to connect job seekers with
multiple barriers to employment with in-demand opportunities in other industry sectors, while fostering
long-term job retention through effective employment development and essential skills training.

Study Results

In the Employment Partnership Program research phase, 90% (329/364) of those participants who
engaged in occupational specific essential skills training went on to engage in technical training at
Canada Goose. 76% (276/364) of those participants who engaged in occupational specific essential
skills training went on to secure employment after completing training. Of the 276 participants who
gained employment after completing occupational specific essential skills training, 68% (188/276)
were hired at Canada Goose and 32% (88/276) were hired elsewhere.
The project currently boasts an 87% post-employment retention rate at six months, which can be
attributed in part to the on-site support provided by OFE’s project team to both the participants and
to Canada Goose staff. This is an extremely important component as we work with Canada Goose to
help them achieve their expansion goals in Winnipeg.
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Employer Mentorship Program

Employer Mentorship Program

OFE was involved in another research study called Manitoba Works! As one of the service providers
in the study, OFE developed an innovative model designed to increase the labour market participa-
tion of Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) recipients and other individuals with multiple
barriers to employment.
The model is responsive to the unique needs of Manitoba employers as they seek new and innovative
recruitment strategies and human resource management practices to fill vacancies and retain productive
employees.

Using a two-fold approach, OFE delivers programming designed to assess and equip eligible job seekers for
the labour market and strategically match candidates with industry-based, paid mentorship opportunities.
We intentionally partner with, mentor, and support both the participant and the employer to foster
long-term job retention.

The Employment Mentorship Program model is a highly focused, intensive approach to create successful
matches between well-prepared clients and well-prepared employers. What makes this approach unique
compared to the other program offerings at OFE are three significant program components:

PROGRAM COMPONENTS

Classroom

An 11 week full-time classroom compo-
nent providing effective training in
Stages of Change, employability skills,
essential skills and computer literacy.

Paid Mentorship

A paid full-time employment mentor-
ship component where the employer
does not bear any of the cost of the
participant’s salary and/or MERCs
with the intention of the position becoming
permanent. This period has varied
from three to six months.

Coaching

Intensive coaching for the partici-
pant and the employer during the
mentorship period including on-site
visits, learning plans and regular
reporting.

Classroom

An 11 week full-time classroom compo-
nent providing effective training in
Stages of Change, employability skills,
essential skills and computer literacy.

Paid Mentorship

A paid full-time employment mentor-
ship component where the employer
does not bear any of the cost of the
participant’s salary and/or MERCs
with the intention of the position becoming
permanent. This period has varied
from three to six months.

Coaching

Intensive coaching for the partici-
pant and the employer during the
mentorship period including on-site
visits, learning plans and regular
reporting.
The innovative programming at OFE aligns with the priorities of our province and builds into a
community where:
  • Manitobans have the skills required to be successful in the labour market.
  • Manitoba employers have the capacity to effectively manage and develop their human
    resources.
  • Manitoba communities are able to support and benefit from labour market growth.
  • Manitoba has an adequate supply of labour to support economic growth.
  • Manitoba labour force participants are fully utilizing their skills.

Key Engagement Elements

The demand led research models at OFE have a number of key engagement elements, which highlight our
efforts to address the following:
Motivation – work with participants to thoroughly acquire an initial buy in on the employment opportunity
from the participant by providing an initial employer visit coupled with the application of Stages of Change
practices to assess, explore and resolve ambivalence in regards to work readiness.

Employability Skills and Workplace Essential Skills – provide training to prepare the individual for their
entrance into, positive contribution and longevity in this specific employment opportunity.

Workplace Exposure – facilitate as an additional opportunity for the participant to visit and observe the
place of employment, the workplace culture and the actual tasks of the position to ensure they are interest-
ed in pursuing the employment opportunity.

Demand Led Technical Training – deliver work ready participants to opportunities delivered by local employ-
ers; increasing industry investment to address labour market shortages and foster sustainable matches.

Monitor and Evaluate – measure the progress of participants and employers to establish best practices
within the program and to build on the successes and share best practices with like-minded agencies.

Individual Coaching – provide to participants on and off site to foster program and employment retention.

Employer Support – provide to employers to create long term sustainable matches and educate employers
to increase their success in working with people with multiple barriers to employment.

Study Results

In the research component of the Employment Mentorship Program, we engaged with 147 individuals.
68% of which were EIA recipients. 103 of the individuals took part in a paid mentorship and 84 (82%) of the
people transitioned into employment post mentorship. In a recent follow-up, it was established that 73 of
the 84 (87%) of the individuals are still working 12 – 24 months post program. Of that group, 59/73 (81%)
are still with the original employer. In addition, another 17 individuals who took part in programming
secured employment within the follow-up period for a total employed number of 98 from the original 147
people who engaged.

As we compare the research groups we note that Program Group participants earn 14% more per hour
and average six more hours per week. Based on these findings, Program Group participants will earn, on aver-
age, $6894 more per year than their counterparts in the Control Group. An additional $7,000/year is life
changing to a low-income family.

In addition, 85 employers hosted 103 people in mentorship placements. 67 employers utilized the wage coverage
opportunity and collectively saved $1,008,417 in salaries and MERCS. All of the employers saved on recruitment
and training costs. As you will read below, these are funds that can be reinvested in growing their business and
subsequently, the Manitoba Economy.

We were able to assist these employers in finding qualified employees and also in expanding and creating a larger
job market for Winnipeg. For example, by hiring multiple participants from the Employment Mentorship Program,
an established, locally-owned employer was able to save over $56,000 (and counting) over a year and a half. This
employer has stated that he would hire EMP participants regardless of the wage subsidy due to the quality of pro-
gramming received at OFE. Another local business owner was able to take the $40,000 he saved from wage cover-
age of three EMP participants and invest it back into his small business. As a result, he has grown his company and
is now in a position to hire two more employees. From a social investment perspective, multiple employers have
expressed gratitude for the opportunity to “change the lives” of their employees.

EIA usage/costs is, on average, 30% lower for the program group than the control group 12 months post program.
Projections made on the current EMP model predict a 28.2% decrease in EIA usage/costs within two years of pro-
gram involvement. Other ROI factors for government include tax contributions made by the participants who are
employed, reduced usage of public services and reduction in criminal justice involvement.

Research data from the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC) indicates significant gains in job
seeker self-efficacy, self-esteem and career decision making ability. Additionally, notable gains in essential skills
levels were recorded for the program group.

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Commitment to training.

By recognizing and promoting our participants’ skills as a potential source of hard working
and dedicated employees, we:

  • Provide cost-effective programming that will increase the level of employment among
    marginalized individuals living in Winnipeg by preparing them for and achieving
    long-term employment.


  • Serve as a primary resource for marginalized individuals along all aspects on the contin-
    uum of employment; connecting them with mentors, designing strategies and programm-
    ing to continually increase the retention rate of participants at each of the major pro-
    gram stages, from application to sustained employment and guide their training.


  • Develop relationships with employers to implement effective employment preparation
    programs, including technical training, and responding to the needs of employers to fill
    vacancies, identify employment opportunities and develop “wrap-around supports” that
    will foster sustainable employment and open the door to community engagement.
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Raising awareness of the value of career and workforce development

OFE’s Employer Partnership Program and the Employment Mentorship Program introduce job seekers to a variety of employment
options to increase their awareness of in-demand jobs. This includes workplace tours and a process called “work exposure”
where applicants take part in hands-on learning and assessment to match qualified candidates with available jobs.
Program participants receive gap training to increase employability skills, essential skill levels and foster
long-term job retention.

In this Employer Partnership Program model, participants receive technical training that prepares them to work as
Sewing Machine Operators at Canada Goose. Prior to the project, Canada Goose did not hire people who were
inexperienced on a sewing machine. The project has introduced a new recruitment strategy and led to the opening
of the in-house training centre, which is being replicated at other Canada Goose locations. The projects provide
work experience and mentorship opportunities, which increase social capital and provide wrap- around supports to
foster sustainable relationships between individuals with multiple barriers to employment and to employers who
are facing recruitment challenges due to skilled labour shortages.

The mentorship opportunity in OFE’s Employment Mentorship Program model gives job seekers a foot in the door to
help them succeed in making the transition from a mentorship to paid employment. A key element of this transition
is the intensive support to both the employee and the employer throughout the mentorship period and post-employment.
The paid mentorship period provides an incentive to the employer to work with individuals who have barriers
to employment and to fully engage in the process and to be open to incorporating new strategies to
attract and retain employees from diverse backgrounds.

OFE actively promotes the value of career and workforce development through:

  • Partnership with government, industry sectors and educational institutions to identify labour needs and training opportunities as well as suitable referrals for the program.

  • Guidance to individuals to access available social and educational programs offered by government and NGOs.

  • Monitoring and evaluation of participants’ and employers’ progress to establish best practices within the program and to build on the successes and share best practices with like-minded agencies.

  • Education of Winnipeg employers on the benefits of employment development and how a diverse workforce strengthens our economy and competiveness.

  • Sensitization of Winnipeg employers to understand both the needs and the potential of marginalized individuals to minimize misunderstandings between our participants and the employers.

At OFE we are proud to partner with our funders to develop a strong and competitive workforce, respond-
ing to labour market demand and creating successful and sustainable matches by using a dual customer
approach.
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THE OFE STAGES OF CHANGE RESEARCH STUDY

Between 2007 and 2010, OFE conducted a large, three-year study on work readiness, testing the
application of the Stages of Change (SOC) Model and Motivational Interviewing (MI) to employment
development. The study used a previously untested approach to increase the labour market partici-
pation of those currently underemployed or unemployed by addressing ambivalence and motiva-
tion through the application of specific interventions to increase work readiness. The project had a
strong evaluation framework and in addition to having a full-time researcher assigned to the proj-
ect, an external evaluator reviewed the study framework, data analysis and outcomes annually.

The study is innovative in that:

  • It addresses an issue often missed in employment development work; job seekers are at
    different stages of readiness, and thus need different forms of support.

  • It proposes to use a model, applied with success in treating addictions and health, in a field
    where it has not before been used, namely employment development.

  • It addresses some of the attitudinal effects of the powerful social forces, which may contribute
    to unemployment.
  • With the model proven to be successful, it can be replicated and implemented elsewhere.

Test Questions

As compared to a control (baseline) group, how does the addition of the Stages of Change Model and Moti-
vational Interviewing to employment development services impact participants’ movement within the
Stages of Change (Pre-contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action and Maintenance)?
Also, will the application of the SOC Model and MI result in decreased program attrition rates, increased
employment, and increased longitudinal employment retention rates?
Study results are available in the final report.

Stages of Change Model

The Stages of Change (SOC) Model is an innovative approach to motivational issues facing job seekers. SOC
has been used extensively in the health psychology field, where emotion, cognition and behaviour are
crucial factors. This study is the first broad use of SOC in the employment field.
It is believed that lacking in self-confidence or low self-esteem can manifest itself as a lack of motivation to
find a good job, and it can become a challenge for people to overcome these circumstances. It would be
beneficial for employment development specialists to understand this behaviour more clearly, and to know
how to provide the most appropriate and effective interventions possible.
The SOC Model speaks specifically to the problem of motivation and ambivalence. Change is viewed as
gradual and progressive over time, rather than dramatic. The SOC Model presents six steps or stages that
are part of the change process, as well as a phenomenon of regression known as recycling.
Estimates are that less than 20% of people who are making changes in their lives are in the Action stage at
any given time, but about 90% of all programs designed to assist with change are intended for people in
that Action stage. Those that have been labelled as “failures” to make or sustain change in programs that
centre around the Action stage may not be as “resistant” to change as some might want you to believe, but
rather the services offered possibly did not meet their needs by addressing the Stage of Change they were
in at the time.

Interventions

Work Readiness Orientation
This three-hour workshop is designed for participants who are in the Pre-contemplative or Contemplative
stages and who may be considered as not being “ready, willing, and able” to obtain and sustain employ-
ment. Workshop participants are introduced to the concept of the Stages of Change, explore the advantag-
es/disadvantages of being employed, and participate in activities that induce emotional arousal, conscious-
ness raising, environmental re-evaluation, and self re-evaluation.
Preparation Workshop
This three-hour workshop centres on reinforcing the decision made to move towards engagement in the
labour force. SOC concepts utilized in this workshop include environmental control, social liberation, count-
ering, and commitment. An important concept that underlies the understanding of change is the accep-
tance that people rarely start at one point and progress through the Stages of Change without interruption.
Such interruptions, or setbacks are referred to as Recycling. Recycling is framed as “normal” in this model,
and not as a failure.
Motivational Interviewing (MI)
MIs conducted within this study are designed to focus on a participant’s employment situation and the
identified stage of the SOC Model the individual is currently in. The interviewer uses empathy, open-ended
questions, reflections and affirmations. Interviews are concluded with a summary of the discussion while
focusing on the individual’s strengths. MIs are offered on a one-on-one basis and generally last one hour.
Motivational Interviewing (MI) was developed by Miller and Rollnick (1991) and is defined as a client-cen-
tred, directive counselling method for enhancing intrinsic motivation to change by exploring and resolving
ambivalence. MI focuses on the person’s current interests and concerns and is consciously directive in that
the interviewer attempts to elicit and selectively reinforce change talk. A strength of MI is that it responds
to conflict in a manner intended to extinguish it. MI is a communication method intended to move the
person toward change while focusing on exploring and resolving ambivalence as a key to eliciting that
change. Within MI, change arises through its relevance to the person’s own values and concerns (Miller and
Rollnick, 2002).

The Spirit of Motivational Interviewing

The spirit of the method can be characterized in a few key points:

1.   Motivation to change is elicited from within the client and not imposed externally
2.   It is the client’s task, not the counsellor’s, to articulate and resolve his or her ambivalence
3.   Direct persuasion is not an effective method for resolving ambivalence
4.   The counselling style is generally a quiet and eliciting one
5.   The counsellor is directive in helping the client to examine and resolve ambivalence
6.   Readiness to change is not a client trait, but a fluctuating product of interpersonal interaction
7.   The therapeutic relationship is more like a partnership or companionship than expert/recipient roles

Study Results

To date, from the analytic results an extrapolation based on even numbers of engaged participants predicts
that using Stages of Change and Motivational Interviewing based interventions with all program partici-
pants would result in a:
  • 25% decrease in releases from employment assistance services
  • 34% increase in first time employment numbers
  • 48% increase in six-month employment retention

Complete results are available in the Final project report. A copy of the external evaluation is available
along with the Best Practices.

At OFE we are proud to partner with our participants, employers and funders to develop a strong and
competitive workforce, responding to labour market demand and creating successful and sustainable
matches by using a dual customer approach.