What is the project?
The pilot project examined the role that a structured mentorship program can play in supporting career development practitioners (CDPs) in BC. The mentoring partnerships, coordinated by the BC Career Development Association (BCCDA), were offered to its members beginning in March 2015 until the end of the pilot in May 2017.
During the pilot, CDPs had the opportunity to form mentoring partnerships around specific topic areas where they were looking for – or offering – support and guidance, which could include serving clients with particular needs and barriers, pursuing skills upgrading or other professional development opportunities, or training in the latest software or information and communications technologies. All mentors and mentees were offered orientation and training on effective mentoring skills and strategies based on SkillPlan‘s established mentorship framework, and participants were given the opportunity to fill the role of mentors or mentees on topics of their choosing.
The BC Centre for Employment Excellence (CfEE) conducted a formal evaluation of the mentorship program to determine its effectiveness in supporting the professional development needs of CDPs as well as its role in equipping practitioners to provide services and supports to BC job seekers.
A final report on the project’s implementation, impacts and lessons learned is forthcoming.
What was the project trying to address?
As an approach to facilitate the building of knowledge and skills quickly through the sharing of information, experience and advice from an experienced practitioner in the career development field, mentoring is expected to provide an efficient manner for building capacity in the sector and supporting CDPs, particularly those who have transitioned to new positions during the recent transformation of employment services in BC. As a province-wide initiative, the tool also presents a promising approach to connect CDPs in different areas of BC, enabling learning opportunities for CDPs working in remote or rural areas and providing an opportunity for community-building in the sector. The benefits of a mentorship program are multifaceted and can support CDPs in a variety of roles, including support for transitions into management, easing integration into the field as new practitioners, and building community cohesion and supports, with the ultimate goal of developing and retaining a skilled workforce for the BC employment services sector.
The research study was designed to address two key questions:
- What role can a structured mentorship program play in meeting the professional development needs of BC career development practitioners?
- What effects can participation in the mentorship program have on practice, particularly in improving services and supports to job seekers?
Who were the partners on the project?
The project represented a partnership between the BC Centre for Employment Excellence (CfEE), the BC Career Development Association (BCCDA), and SkillPlan.
The CfEE managed the pilot project and was responsible for meeting the overall planning, organization and reporting requirements of the study. The CfEE team also conducted a multifaceted evaluation of the program. The CfEE is based in Vancouver and was created by the Government of British Columbia in 2012 to enhance the knowledge and development needs of the employment services sector and the employer community in BC on issues related to employment programs and practices.
The BCCDA (www.bccda.org) wasresponsible for recruiting CDPs to participate in the pilot and coordinating the mentoring partnerships offered through the program. The BCCDA is a not-for-profit professional association representing approximately 700 individual career practitioners as well as 45 agencies across British Columbia. The Association administers the Certified Career Development Practitioner (CCDP) designation. The BCCDA’s mandate is to provide a central networking, education, and training service to develop the knowledge and skills of its members, thus enhancing their effectiveness for serving their clientele.
SkillPlan (www.skillplan.ca) provided the mentorship framework, tools and resources to develop the program and training materials, and provided ongoing supports to the BCCDA to ensure the program’s successful implementation. SkillPlan was formed in 1991 to provide Essential Skills/foundational skills solutions to address learning challenges in the construction industry. Since its formation, SkillPlan has expanded its services to include multiple industries and other sectors. It has been considered one of the leaders in Canada for pinpointing foundational skills problems, and designing curriculum and training programs to address these challenges. SkillPlan serves 14 international building trades, more than 500 employers and numerous private and public technical training institutions.
The pilot was funded by the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation’s Research and Innovation Fund.
For queries about this project or other research activities being undertaken by the BC Centre for Employment Excellence, please contact Shawn de Raaf, the CfEE Research Coordinator.