Three Research Projects to Commence in April 2008
The Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council has received approval from the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program for funding of three projects in 2008. Another three proposals are currently under consideration.
The three approved projects are:
Education/Certification Standards Development Project
This Phase II project is based on the results of the Industry Research and Analysis Project (the Phase I Education/Certification project)
completed in 2007 by the CSCSC, which resulted in the compilation of a compendium of Canadian supply chain programs and an expression of support for the Council to develop a standardized approach to post-secondary training, education and certification.
A consultation process with a broad group of representatives from the sector’s associations and academia will establish:
- a set of standards outlining commonly understood and accepted education and training requirements in the sector; and
- a marketing plan to promote the standards and accreditation approach to the sector.
A voluntary submission process by learning-program providers (professional associations, post-secondary educational institutions and private providers of programs) to have their programs reviewed will identify:
- those programs that meet the standards defined by industry stakeholders as crucial to the needs of the sector, and can thus be accredited by the CSCSC; and
- any gaps that exist in submitted programs in order that the institution can work with the sector to revise programs where required.
In addition, this project will publicize the availability of education and training resources through the development of:
- a portal on the CSCSC website that will house the compendium of recognition tools and resources developed in the Phase I project;
- a feature on the compendium that recognizes those programs that have been accredited by the CSCSC; and
- a process to enable the annual updating of the compendium to ensure its ongoing relevance and currency.
Labour Market Information Project
This is also a Phase II project; information resulting from the Phase I project
, completed in 2007, will be utilized to design and implement the initial framework or elements of a labour market information system that will enable the supply chain sector to effectively deal with its principal human resources issues in a pan-Canadian context, taking regional realities into account. Elements of the LMI system will be dependent upon the recommendations of Phase I, and may include:
- Compensation surveys completed on a metropolitan, provincial or regional basis;
- Clarification related to occupations, and NOC and NAICS codes that are associated with each sub-function within the sector;
- Essential skills and workplace/language competency requirements for occupations in the sector;
- Trends and forecasting relating to supply and demand issues for occupations in the sector; and,
- Creation/identification of distinct career paths within the sector to encourage recruitment and retention.
A key element of this project is the establishment of a number of Regional Labour Market Information Working Groups that will be responsible for the identification and development of a key product or service that meets their needs. These Working Groups will be part of a pan-Canadian network that will utilize local perspectives to define the products, and develop useful responses that will be shared with stakeholders across Canada.
Development of Occupational Profiles
Through this project, the Council will develop a foundation for the process of creating occupational profiles for the sector. The process will aim to achieve representation of the sector’s functions, and prioritize high-demand occupations or those that require an increased emphasis on training or skills development due to, for example, the impacts of technological change. Utilizing a best-practices approach, the Council will develop a model in which occupational profiles can be written and validated more quickly than is normal through consultation with key stakeholders in the sector. With stakeholder input, we will develop a prioritized list for each of the sector’s seven functional areas to identify which among the 26 occupations in the supply chain sector are most in need of occupational standards to assist in developing job descriptions, competency profiles and job-performance tools that will help to address our labour shortages. Resources will be applied first to the development of profiles of those occupations.
These projects will begin in April 2008, and will range in duration from nine to 18 months.
The Council will require stakeholder input in each of these projects. Anyone interested in participating, as a member of either a working group to lead a project or a research-validating roundtable, is encouraged to contact Kevin Maynard, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-897-6700, ext. 222.
Update on Partnership with Lakeshore Collegiate
The Council is partnered, along with the Canadian Automotive Repair and Service Council (CARS), with Etobicoke's Lakeshore Collegiate, a high school in the Toronto District School Board, through the TDSB's Education/Sector Council Partnership Project (ESCPP). We're in the early stages of developing this relationship: determining how we can best work together to meet the needs of students at Lakeshore and, ultimately, at schools across Canada.
The ESCPP is a three-year pilot project, funded by the Government of Canada's Sector Council Program. Its objective is to develop, implement, test and evaluate the potential of replicable education/industry partnerships that can advantage school programs and provide students with better essential skills, job-relevant courses and up-to-date career and labour-market resources. The long-term goal of the project is to roll out the model in schools across Canada.
Each school/sector council partnership is unique. Ours with Lakeshore is being developed through the working together of Lakeshore's principal and a group of teachers, and the staff of the two sector councils, guided by the ESCPP Consulting Manager and Project Coordinator. Lakeshore Collegiate is located near numerous companies that might provide support of the program through either informative supply chain-related tours or jobs for students, or both.
During an all-day session in February, school and council staff met to begin to flesh out a direction for this partnership.
- The need for work-site visits, connecting with "feeder" schools and parent involvement were stressed.
- Teaching the teachers would be an important early step.
- Curriculum possibilities: i. embedding existing supply chain sector educational courses in the curriculum, to enable students to complete one of an association's courses in a designation program, for example; and, ii. making the acquisition of a certification, in forklift operation, for example, possible for students before graduation.
- Industry could contribute by developing both work-experience or job-shadowing opportunities and scholarships for further study in supply chain management.
- Having speakers from industry talk to students about the need for essential skills in the workplace would be helpful.
- A resource fair may be organized to provide students and their parents with more information about the sectors covered by the two councils involved in this partnership.
The Council is looking for volunteer support for this initiative. If you're interested in helping to guide this partnership project, please contact the Council, at email@example.com.
Investing in Essential-skills Training
By Kevin A. Maynard, CAE
Based on a presentation by Jim Pollock of the ABC Canada Literacy Foundation
I recently attended a roundtable on workplace literacy and was inspired to share some of the information with our readers this month. All too often, we look to external sources to help us with productivity and labour solutions. In some cases, we try to solve the problem of labour shortage merely by adding more people to the mix, rather than looking for ways to increase productivity with our current labour supply. And more often than not, the option of productivity enhancements comes with a cost; either through investments in technology and automation or by expecting more output from labour.
Perhaps there is another opportunity!
Jim Pollock of the ABC Canada Literacy Foundation outlined a number of interesting facts at the roundtable. He noted that there is an increase in the attention being paid to human resource approaches that look to literacy and essential-skills upgrading as a means to improve communications, understanding, efficiency of effort, health and safety performance, and other good things.
There is a kind of awakening to the need for investment in essential-skills training. “We realized that some people are having trouble with upgrading their skills because they may have a challenge with some basic skills, such as numeracy and document comprehension. The number of Canadians with low literacy is remarkably high and has pretty much remained the same for the past decade and a half.”
National and international studies by Statistics Canada and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicate that four out of 10 Canadian adults, aged 16 to 65, are challenged with low literacy to some degree. That’s 9 million Canadians, and a sizeable portion of our workforce.
These people are challenged with reading comprehension in varying degrees: many read a newspaper every day, but they don’t have the comprehension skills necessary to realize their full potential – at home, in the community, and in the workplace.
The limitations placed on these workers because of their literacy challenge effectively hold them back. They may be having trouble right now understanding forms, signs or instructions of all kinds. Or, they may be fine now; maybe their literacy and numeracy skills are better than those of that person who can’t read even the signage.
But what if new technology comes down the pipe that demands more of them? Or what if they’d like to move up in the corporation? Will they have that opportunity?
The Alliance of Sector Councils’ forum on productivity last month underscored the point that there are numerous factors conspiring to put pressure on companies to attract and train qualified people…and to retain them.
Workforce demographics and the economic climate in Canada demand that we address the essential-skills issue. An aging population soon to leave the ranks of the employed, the lack of a full complement of young people to fill the spaces, and the ever-increasing technological demands that are always mentioned by companies I speak with leave us no option.
The need to pay attention to developing HR practices that will ensure the health and welfare of both employees and the companies at which they work has always been important, but arguably never more so than now. For a couple of years now, the World Economic Forum in Geneva has downgraded Canada’s global competitiveness: we were in 13th spot two years ago and 16th spot last year.
Studies have shown that there are both social and economic outcomes associated with the literacy levels of a country. With numerous forces putting Canada into a competitive slide, it makes sense to do everything we can to better prepare our workforce.
Statistics Canada has said that a 1 per cent rise in literacy scores relative to the international average is associated with an eventual 2.5-per cent rise in labour productivity and a 1.5-per cent rise in per capita gross domestic product. This is a compelling argument for making the investment.
There are companies that have made such an investment:
- Syncrude Canada
- Ekati Diamond Mine
- Firestone Textiles
- Beaulieu Canada
- Cavendish Farms
- Palliser Furniture
- and many more
Syncrude was one of the trailblazers. Its Effective Reading in Context Program – or ERIC for short – began in 1988. The company has refined it, introducing new programs to address numeracy, as well as document use and other reading comprehensions.
Firestone Textiles, Beaulieu Canada, and Stedfast Inc. have brought on board some impressive training facilities, thanks to the facilitation of the Textiles Human Resources Council, based in Ottawa, and the co-operation, energy and vision of both unions and management working together to see programs developed and implemented.
With a small staff and two standing committees made up of representatives from business, unions, industry groups, educational institutions and government, the Textiles Human Resources Council works to build educational infrastructures. The Council has made essential skills – literacy, numeracy, computer operating, communicating, problem solving – a priority, viewing literacy as the essential building block.
Approaches to Literacy and Numeracy Upgrading in the Workplace
First, seldom will you hear “literacy.” There is a stigma, unfortunately, attached to low literacy, and it is common for those who are challenged to not want to be confronted with any reminder – or to be ‘singled out’ in any way. So companies focus on the job-specific tasks at hand – providing learning opportunities for their employees so they can ‘get up to speed on that new machine,’ or ‘offer some computer training.’ Whatever the task, the ‘l word’ is buried.
And literacy is leaving the stage in another sense. To be literate is the end product and the natural consequence of having gone through a learning process. For companies, and for employees, the most important thing is being able to do your job more completely, more satisfyingly; to seek and attain that next level of success; to feel confident about your abilities and to step up and contribute fully and creatively. Those are all things that are not about literacy, strictly speaking, but they are, fundamentally, realized because of literacy. And literacy is the tool that is acquired while you’re busy and focused on job-specific tasks and challenges.
I started by saying that people are beginning to awaken to the importance of investing in literacy, but we have really just begun to rouse the public into a new conscousness. There are big gains to be made:
- There’s the economic imperative, and the competitive edge that can be gained.
- There’s the overall health of our economy: workers with higher literacy skills earn more income, are less likely to be unemployed, and experience shorter periods of unemployment – all cost benefits to our society.
- There is increased workplace safety, which means fewer injuries, less downtime, reduced insurance costs: in a 2007 Conference Board of Canada study, 82% of respondents associated increased health and safety with their workplaces’ essential-skills program.
- There are enhanced workplace efficiencies due to a greater understanding of job demands and procedures.
- There is greater adaptability and portability in terms of worker skills.
- And, there is a culture at work that fosters employee loyalty and retention, and positions an organization as a ‘company of choice’.
Seventy-nine per cent of respondents in the 2007 Conference Board study said they observed increased productivity in their workplaces because of their basic-skills programs.
You increasingly hear the term ‘lifelong learning’: it’s one of those terms that may get caught in the throat of a company executive; it sounds to some like something that belongs outside of the workplace. But for those in the literacy community – and, increasingly, for those in business who are considering their next steps in training – lifelong learning actually underscores the fact that learning is a constant.
And as workplace demands keep changing, so too should companies and their employees:
- For some companies, it means that they make sure there are learning opportunities available on an ongoing basis.
- For other companies, it means also extending those learning opportunities out into the community, sometimes to workers’ spouses.
At Ekati Diamond Mine, for example, they offered not only the GED high-school diploma and support for apprenticeships, but life-skills workshops on topics such as stress and money management.
ABC Canada believes that one of the keys to developing a competitive economy is to ensure that Canadians are continually learning…in the workplace itself, and throughout their adult lives, regardless of their age and circumstance. It is, we believe, the responsibility of myriad stakeholders – business associates of all stripes, labour, governments – to ensure that these learning opportunities exist for our citizens. If we acknowledge and act on that responsibility, the big win will be the health of our companies and our economy.
As you can see, Jim is passionate about his work at the Foundation, and about the contribution that increased literacy can have on the productivity and health of the individual, the workplace and ultimately on our communities. For more information on the ABC Literacy Foundation and its programs, visit www.abc-canada.org
Excerpts used with permission of Jim Pollock, ABC Literacy Foundation.
Budget 2008 – Excerpts related to skills development, labour shortages and the labour market
Based on notes from Andrew Cardozo, Executive Director, The Alliance of Sector Councils
Following are some key excerpts from the federal budget tabled by federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on February 26. To see the budget, go to www.budget.gc.ca
Investing in People
Improving Canada's competitive position means developing the best-educated, most-skilled and most-flexible workforce in the world. That is why Budget 2008:
- Supports Canadian students with a $350-million investment in 2009/2010, rising to $430 million by 2012/2013, in a new, consolidated Canada Student Grant Program that will reach 245,000 college and undergraduate students per year when it takes effect in the fall of 2009.
- Provides $25 million over two years to establish a new Canada Graduate Scholarship award for top Canadian and international doctoral students.
- Strengthens the ability of Canadian universities to attract and retain top science leaders with $21 million over two years to establish up to 20 Canada Global Excellence Research Chairs.
To modernize the immigration system, Budget 2008 provides for a $22-million investment over two years, growing to $37 million per year, including legislation to speed up the processing of permanent-resident applications, to ensure shorter wait times and make Canada's immigration system more competitive.
The measures proposed in Budget 2008 will expedite the processing of permanent residents to ensure that skilled immigrants can get to Canada when their skills are in demand. Changes will allow Canada to take the first steps towards establishing a "just-in-time" competitive immigration system that will quickly process skilled immigrants who can make an immediate contribution to the economy.
The Government will also focus on helping post-secondary educational institutions attract foreign students and on facilitating their arrival in Canada. For example, an online application system, as well as other measures to improve service and speed up processing, will be implemented for student visas. These initiatives, combined with new Canada Graduate Scholarships for Canadian and international students, will enhance Canada's ability to compete with other countries to attract and retain the best foreign students.
Budget 2008 removes disincentives for seniors to work by raising the current Guaranteed Income Supplement earned-income exemption to $3,500, from its current maximum exemption level of $500.
Investing in Knowledge
- Provides an additional $80 million per year to Canada's three university granting councils for research in support of industrial innovation, health priorities, and social and economic development in the North.
- Provides an additional $15 million per year to the Indirect Costs of Research program.
- Provides $250 million over five years to support strategic, large-scale research and development projects in the automotive sector to develop innovative, greener and more fuel-efficient vehicles.
- Enhances Export Development Canada's guarantee programs to support the automotive and manufacturing sectors.
Supporting Communities and Traditional Industries
Some workers and communities face challenges in adjusting to changes in the international economy. In January 2008, the Government announced up to $1 billion for the Community Development Trust to support those experiencing hardship due to international economic volatility. The trust will support such activities as job training to create opportunities for workers, community transition plans that foster economic development and create new jobs, and infrastructure investments that stimulate economic diversification. Budget 2008 builds on this initiative by providing an additional $90 million to extend to 2012 the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers to help older workers stay in the workforce.
The Government recognizes the particular challenges faced by unemployed older workers in vulnerable communities, where jobs are harder to find and which are often reliant on a single employer or industry. At a time when Canada is facing labour shortages, the experience of older workers represents an increasingly valuable asset. That is why in October 2006 the Government committed $70 million over two years to put in place the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers (TIOW). The TIOW is a federal/provincial employment program that provides a range of employment activities for unemployed older workers who live in vulnerable communities and helps them stay in the workforce.
Budget 2008 provides an additional $90 million over three years to extend the TIOW until March 2012 to help more older workers remain active and productive participants in the labour market.
Strengthening Partnerships With Aboriginal Canadians
The most-effective way to close the gap in socio-economic conditions faced by Aboriginal Canadians is to increase their workforce participation. Budget 2008 takes action toward this goal by:
- Dedicating $70 million over two years for measures within a new Aboriginal economic development framework.
- Dedicating $70 million over two years to improve First Nations education outcomes through enhanced accountability and by encouraging integration with provincial systems.
Questions? Yes, please.
By Chris Irwin, MBA
Sr. Consultant, Ignite Excellence
“The important thing is to never stop asking questions.” – Albert Einstein
Two-way communication requires that both parties be able to ask and answer questions. The game “broken telephone” can be an enlightening exercise in just how the simplest of messages can get bungled without natural back-and-forth.
From a process-efficiency point of view – no matter what the process – better information yields better results. So, how can a team leader foster the trust of employees to elicit the information that he or she needs? The instinct to “ask until you understand” is a good one; take note of pitfalls that can arise from interpersonal relationships and how the questions are asked… or not asked.
Scenario #1: “Why are you asking so many questions?”
I was working with a lawyer recently who mentioned that sometimes people appear uncomfortable when she asks them questions. As a non-lawyer, I can completely understand this reaction. Doctors may feel the same tension when, during a routine physical, they ask a patient about his alcohol consumption. The role of the person asking questions will have a great effect on how honestly and readily people answer.
Team leaders, bosses and managers should be well aware that the employer/employee dynamic provides a number of reasons that an employee will not answer questions 100 percent truthfully and completely. This is not to suggest that employees would lie, but they may hesitate to reveal some information. This will be especially true if the employee questions the motive for the keen interest.
As a practice, we listen better when the person prepares us for the message. Recall how people need to be readied for messages according to their different communication styles. This may involve proactively explaining why we are asking.
Scenario #2: “What do you mean by that?”
There are few things that change the dynamic of a conversation more than the phrase, “What do you mean by that?” When talking to people whose degree of trust is low, increased care should be taken in asking questions. The same can be said for all communications in a low-trust environment.
On the surface, “how” questions can seem – and often are – innocent, but semantically they beg assessment and judgement, and consequently may make people reluctant to share. I was conducting interviews with various members of senior management for one of our clients. One VP had just returned from a site visit to a plant. As an attempt at small talk, walking to his office, I asked, “So how was it at ABC plant?” The response was 90 seconds of silence until we reached his office. Once the door was closed, I was the unhappy recipient of, “What did you mean by that?”
Be keenly aware of the degree of trust in your relationship when using certain kinds of questions of people.
Scenario #3 – “Why?”
The problem with “Why?” is that it forces us to verbalize our decisions. As change agents, we really need to understand the decision process for the people that we are trying to influence, but delving into it successfully may demand that a strong rapport exist; otherwise, questions may not be well received. It's also important that people understand that asking in this context is not prying.
If we want to know why someone is not following a process, we could ask, “Why are you not following the process by doing A and then B?” Stated this way, however, the question may result in a high level of tension between the parties.
Compare with this approach:
Boss: “I’ve noticed that you are going straight to B, rather than doing A first.”
Employee: “Yeah. I come back and do A if needed, but most of the time it works without doing A at all.”
Depending on the definition of “works,” this may be an opportunity to eliminate an unnecessary step. Importantly, this interchange provides insight into the “why” without requiring that it be explicitly asked. Note: tone and rapport will dictate to a great degree one's ability to get quality/honest responses.
In short, ask and learn, but be aware that a number of things can dictate how freely the information flows back and forth, even with really good questions. The best chance at good information flow comes when there is a true dialogue, and when there is a degree of rapport that allows people to be honest. When honest information is flowing, we have a much better chance of understanding people’s reasoning. This can help us in shaping processes and behaviours accordingly.
Chris Irwin is a Senior Consultant with Ignite Excellence Inc., a training and development consultancy specializing in persuasive communications. Maximizing the effectiveness of internal communication (including in a supply chain) is one of Ignite Excellence’s areas of expertise for communications-skill development. Chris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. |
Coming Supply Chain Sector Events
Event in the Spotlight
Taming That Monster Under the Bed: Exploring Critical Relationships Between Supply Chains and the Environment
June 9 and 10, Mount Royal College, Calgary
Contemporary problems confronting supply chains and the environment are complex, multidimensional and interdependent. How might we collectively prepare for the changes ahead? This conference is designed to harmonize the agendas of the supply chain and environment sectors. Specifically, the goals of the conference are:
- to create awareness and a sense of urgency relative to the critical relationships between the supply chain and environment sectors;
- to create action in order that business, the public sector and the environment can all benefit from the anticipated changes ahead;
- to build resiliency and the capacity of Canadians to adapt to climate change;
- to create a community of interest relating to supply chain and the environment; and,
- to seed relevant research projects that would continue to support the conference goals.
Keynote speakers include:
- Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, author and citizen advocate
- Dr. Roger Gibbins, President and CEO, the Canada West Foundation
- Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon, Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Toronto
Concurrent sessions are divided into two themes: ‘Supply Chain Impacts Upon the Environment’ and ‘Environmental Impacts Upon Supply Chains’.
The conference will be a significant opportunity to create a critical dialogue between the two sectors.
Organized by the Joint Learning Initiative – a consortium of Alberta-based education, government and industry partners – and the City of Calgary, The Van Horne Institute and Mount Royal College, with the support of the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council.
Montreal – April 8
Toronto – April 9
Letters of Credit:
Montreal – April 8
Toronto – April 9
Risks Forwarders Face:
Montreal – April 15
Toronto – April 16
Montreal – April 15
Toronto – April 16
April 30, Vancouver, B.C.
May 14, Calgary, Alta.
May 20, Toronto, Ont.
The CSCSC is participating in the following events in the next few months, to promote awareness of the supply chain sector's employment opportunities:
Last Few Days to Participate
Logistics Labour Market Survey 2008... Open Until March 31
The Logistics Institute invites you to participate in its logistics labour market survey
, through which the Institute will track workforce development trends over the last four years.
The study is gathering information including:
- Details about activities related to recruitment and retention: What are the best means for finding and keeping skilled logistics supply chain resources?
- Trends affecting compensation levels and career progression for logistics practitioners, as well as important factors related to employability and mobility.
Why is this information important?
- It will provide logisticians and organizations with critical information on current salary and compensation levels and emerging trends in recruitment and retention programs.
- It will help users to understand how traditional benefits for logisticians rate versus other forms of recognition and support, such as opportunities for career advancement.
- It will help organizations determine how the community can be best served.
The final research report will be made available on the Logistics Gateway to serve as a resource for practitioners to better manage their careers and for organizations interested in improving their abilities to recruit, develop and retain talented resources.