Quality of Work – New Local Survey

Quality of Work – New Local Survey

The Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie has launched a new survey that is digging into how people perceive quality of work at their current or past workplaces.

Quality of work typically refers to a combination of things like a job’s income and benefits, job security, chance for promotion, opportunities to use skills, workplace culture and more.

For the last few years, our annual employer survey results have highlighted the growing obstacles that businesses face in finding and retaining suitable employees. Turnover triggered by quits, workplace culture and lack of work-life balance has been increasing and this has significant impacts on business operations.

With the added volatility of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to better understand the factors that influence quality of work, and to scope out the opportunities, challenges and barriers to supporting the Grand Erie labour market.

We will be examining the “quality of work” amongst workers within six industries in the Grand Erie area (healthcare and social assistance, retail trade, construction, manufacturing, accommodation and food services and agriculture.) The research will be carried out through a workforce survey that will measure the quality of work along 6 dimensions defined by Statistics Canada.

With this survey, we want to better understand what people value in a job, the workplace and their leaders. It is important to hear from workers, what attracts them to apply for a job and to stay in a job.

Many employers are experiencing labour shortages and they are competing for workers. Having a reputation of providing a good work culture and jobs can make a business stand out. The survey should help businesses, community organizations and local government learn more about what workers value in a workplace, and could prompt changes that strengthen quality of work.

Employers may learn what improvements or best practices they can implement in their workplace to give workers a stronger incentive to stay. And a good quality of work and work-life balance at a workplace can be a big selling point to potential new hires.

Individuals who complete the survey may find themselves better equipped to open up conversations with their managers about how their work quality can be enhanced. Results may also help those looking for work to identify industries that best support their quality of work goals.

Further, data collected through this survey can help community organizations/government develop better, more targeted programs and services to support our workforce’s needs.

The survey, which takes about 15 minutes to complete, is open to employees and job seekers 15 years and older who lives in Brantford, Six Nations, New Credit and Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk counties and will be running until September of this year. Those who complete the survey will have a chance to win a prize in a weekly draw.

The research project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre, a forward-looking organization that prototypes, tests and measures new and innovative approaches to skills development across Canada. To learn more about Future Skills Centre, visit: fsc-ccf.ca

Thank you to our survey sponsors:

Celebrating Grand Erie’s Essential Workers – Sharon

Celebrating Grand Erie’s Essential Workers – Sharon

Today, in our Frontline Fridays feature we talk to Sharon Brooks, Executive Director of Kids Can Fly, a local charitable organization that works with children and families supporting early learning and parenting.

Through Frontline Fridays the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie pays tribute to essential workers in our community. Essential workers have helped us cope with the COVID-19 pandemic in Brantford, Six Nations, New Credit, and the counties of Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk.

What is a typical day at Kids can Fly and how has Covid-19 affected your day-to-day work?  

Sharon: Before COVID-19 I worked from a home office, so the change was less for me to adjust to than our programming staff.

Kids Can Fly works with children and families and our work is based on the importance of relationships. Not being able to come together in person and offer support, modeling and creative programming presented a huge challenge when the pandemic began.

Being in the Early Childhood Education (ECE) field for over 40 years, I have concerns for young children’s emotional health as they are navigated through this unprecedented time. I am overwhelmed with the resilience of children that I have witnessed and the skills and determination of ECE’s who care for them.  As a charity, Kids Can Fly aims to be able to continue to offer support for parents – who need that reassurance more than ever.

When the pandemic started, our frontline staff person – Jane Flinders – who has a wealth of experience, managed the pivot to virtual programming in an amazing fashion. Jane quickly put together engaging virtual programming for children who normally attended our Launch Pad drop-in program. Songs, stories and crafts were offered via Facebook and parents were hungry to bring this normalcy to their children. Some days we have over 1000 hits and people from other communities and even other countries are joining in! 

Jane’s co-host is her preschool aged granddaughter Lucy who is so relatable to the other children. Sometimes they pre-record baking or going for a walk in the woods for the children at home to enjoy. In the fall, we added to this by providing free porch-dropped Kits for Launch From Home activities which allows children to participate in crafts, musical activities and get other home ideas from the newsletter we include.

Kids Can Fly offers weekly programs for the 1 in 5 women who experience postpartum depression or anxiety. During COVID-19 this has magnified so continuing to reach out to these moms was imperative. This was achieved through ZOOM and in the later part of the summer – moms gathered with Jane at Mohawk Park to sit socially distanced and participate in discussions. The need for human contact is so great. 

Kids Can Fly also created a new program shortly after the pandemic hit. HUGS4NEWMOMS is offered Monday mornings and was developed for women having a new baby in during the pandemic’s isolation. During this stressful time in life – without the benefit of family support – this group was really helpful and continues to be well attended by other moms who have had winter babies. 

One of the strengths of Kids Can Fly has been the ability to pivot and address local gaps in service quickly. That being said – it would not have been successful without the high level of skill and commitment from Jane, our other staff and volunteers.

What have been the greatest rewards and challenges in your work?

Sharon: I believe our full Team would agree that we are very proud of the way we were able to show flexibility and quickly change how we supported families – in an engaging and meaningful way. Our Dolly Parton Imagination Library program (where children are mailed a book each month) was NOT impacted by COVID-19 and this has been so appreciated by families. The book arriving in the mail each month offers normalcy to children and they enjoy reading it together with their parents. 

I have had an extremely rewarding career working with children and families. I was the original Executive Director of Kids Can Fly and we are celebrating our 20th Anniversary this year!  I know that programs we have offered have made a difference in the lives of so many children and I am also appreciative that this wouldn’t have been possible without the talented staff, caring board members, volunteers and generous sponsors.  

The greatest challenge for Kids Can Fly is the inability to hold fundraising events – as we must raise our own money. We have been able to adapt some fundraisers to a virtual or porch drop format but overall, the pandemic has impacted our annual income. We are so grateful SC Johnson recently made an incredibly donation of $150, 000 towards growing the Our Dolly Parton Imagination Library program locally. Currently we send books to almost 2000 local kids monthly.

What have been your greatest supports and means of coping as an essential worker this past year? 

Sharon: Kids Can Fly has a strong Team that inspires and motivates each other. Staff, board members and volunteers are committed to investing in early learning and parenting and cheer each other on.

Feedback from families on how children enjoy the programming or books is always an emotional reward too!

What was your education/training? 

Sharon: I took my Early childhood Education training almost 50 years ago!  To work frontline with Kids Can Fly you need a diploma in early childhood education or equivalent. To work in the management capacity training in Fundraising and Project management plus strong written and oral and computer communication skills are needed as well.

What made you pursue your career? What lead you to take a job in this community? 

Sharon: As a teenager I wanted a career with young children and have always known it was the right choice for me. After working hands-on with children for 3 decades I moved into an Executive Director position. I was hired for this job when Kids Can Fly was created based on my frontline experience and skills gained from volunteering, including major fundraising, which I learned while I was with the Canadian Equestrian Team. I knew it would be rewarding.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing your career? 

Sharon: Volunteering is always beneficial to see if the career is a good fit. In normal times, we use volunteers in our programs and the more experience one has the more marketable they are. Also, it helps to make sure this field is right for you. It’s high energy and requires patience.

If you would like to learn more about the organization, visit Kids Can Fly or follow them on Facebook.

Local Training and Certification for careers like Sharon’s:

Conestoga College:

Early Childhood Education | Full-time | Ontario College Diploma (conestogac.on.ca)

Senior Leadership and Management in the Not-For-Profit Sector | Continuing Education | Conestoga College

Six Nations Polytechnic:

Early Childhood Education (0106) | Six Nations Polytechnic (snpolytechnic.com)

Fanshawe College:

Early Childhood Education | Fanshawe College

Applied Fundraising Practices | Fanshawe College

Mohawk College:

Early Childhood Education – 213 | Mohawk College

SkillsAdvance Ontario: ECE Assistant Training – EDUC 10062, CRED 10148 | Mohawk College

Fundraising | Mohawk College Continuing Education

Wilfrid Laurier University:

Youth and Children’s Studies (BA) | Wilfrid Laurier University (wlu.ca)

The Child & Adolescent Research and Education Lab | Wilfrid Laurier University (wlu.ca)

Statistics Canada Occupational Profile:

NOC 2011 – 0423 – Managers in social, community and correctional services – All examples (statcan.gc.ca)

NOC 2011 – 4214 – Early childhood educators and assistants – Unit group (statcan.gc.ca)

Search Local Early Childhood Education Jobs:

Grand Erie Jobs


Celebrating Grand Erie’s Essential Workers – Don

Celebrating Grand Erie’s Essential Workers – Don

This week in our Frontline Fridays feature – where we pay tribute to Grand Erie essential workers in the communities of Brantford, Six Nations, New Credit and the counties of Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk – we talk to Don Jagoe, IT Business Owner of My Tech Geeks based in Brantford.

What does an average day look like for you?

Don: Working in the information technology service industry generally results in a dynamic workday largely spent communicating with clients and servicing their needs. A big part of the job is being responsive to the customer. A phone call, email or text can throw your schedule out the window and change the priority of work to be completed on any given day.

Normally, I start work around 6:30am. I review remote management software that provides a dashboard of information such as backup status and potential issues on servers or computers that I support and monitor. I check to ensure servers are online, backups were successful and completed antivirus scans found no infections. I also look at other stats such as hard drives running low on space or showing early signs of failure. If anything is concerning, I then remote into the server or computer, take the appropriate action and notify people if necessary.

What has it been like to be an essential worker during the pandemic?

Don: Covid-19 has introduced more steps into regular procedures of onsite work. Much more work is now done remotely over the Internet, but when work cannot be completed remotely, I go onsite. Like everyone, when travelling to sites such as medical sites, I now text to let the office know I have arrived, complete a screening questionnaire, have my temperature taken and use hand sanitizer. I wear a mask and disposable rubber gloves when working with medical equipment. At non-medical sites, I generally bring a portable keyboard and mouse. Devices are wiped down with alcohol based disinfecting wipes.

What have been the greatest rewards and challenges in your work?

Don: Shortly after the pandemic started there was a huge demand to get businesses set up quickly so that staff could work from home. There were many nights of little to no sleep to get everyone set up as the requests came in. Technology and computers have become more essential for people working or studying from home. Like others in the information technology service sector, I often attempt to address non-urgent issues when computers are not in use during lunch, dinner, or at night when the user is no longer using the computer.

I always take great pride in my work and customer satisfaction and my reward is a job well done. Ideally, servers or computers on a remotely managed service plan see little to no downtime. Sometimes it may seem as though IT staff are never around or not working, but in reality that usually means a job well done in identifying and fixing issues before they are reported!

What have been your greatest supports and means of coping as an essential worker this past year?

Don: Some of my greatest supports come from communicating with other people in my field. I often communicate with IT people all over North America. I find it comforting to hear what other people are experiencing and how they are coping.

What made you pursue your career? What lead you to take a job in this community? 

Don: I got bit by the tech bug at a young age. Initially I used my computer to play games, but I soon started programming, building websites and computers and helping others with technology. I read everything I could about computers and IT and eventually studied for the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and for the Microsoft Certified Professional accreditation.

When I worked for the University of Prince Edward Island, I also obtained a BA, and later a BSc. I married someone I met there and moved to Brantford when my wife accepted a job in Ontario. Since then, my path included working my way up to service delivery manager and managing tech support call centre contracts for fortune 100 companies. Eventually, I started my own small IT company – My Tech Geeks (www.mytechgeeks.ca)

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing your career?

Don: My advice for anyone looking to get into the IT service field today would be to learn technical skills in any of a number of ways. A good starting point would be to obtain Comptia certification (https://www.comptia.org/faq/a/what-is-comptia-a-certification). Additionally, there are lots of advanced certificates such as Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/certifications/). Many companies look at an equivalent of education and experience when hiring. My advice is to start in an entry level tech position and work your way up.

Thank you to Don for sharing his story and for all his efforts in helping clients stay connected and continue their work.

Local Training and Certification for careers like Don’s:

For High School Students:

CanHack Challenge | The DMZ (ryerson.ca)

Conestoga College:

Computer Systems Technician – Information Technology Infrastructure and Services (Optional Co-op) | Full-time | Ontario College Diploma (conestogac.on.ca)

Information Technology Infrastructure | Full-time | Graduate Certificate (conestogac.on.ca)

Information Technology Network Security | Full-time | Graduate Certificate (conestogac.on.ca)

Westervelt College:

IT Technician – Westervelt College

Fanshawe College:

School of Information Technology | Fanshawe College

Computer Systems Technician | Fanshawe College

Mohawk College:

Computer Systems Technology – Network Engineering and Security Analyst – 555 | Mohawk College

Ontario Colleges:

Computer – Security | ontariocolleges.ca

Laurier University:

Computer Science (BSc), Waterloo | Wilfrid Laurier University (wlu.ca)

Master of Applied Computing (MAC) | Wilfrid Laurier University (wlu.ca) 

Business Technology Management (BBTM) | Wilfrid Laurier University (wlu.ca)

Statistics Canada Occupational Classification:

NOC 2011 – 2281 – Computer network technicians – Unit group (statcan.gc.ca)

Search Local IT Jobs:

Grand Erie Jobs

NOC 2011 – 2282 – User support technicians – Unit group (statcan.gc.ca)  

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