At the June retreat of the 2018 Toronto Sector Skills Academy, PHI President Jodi Sturgeon presented a case study that focused on her organization’s approach to improving job quality, workforce opportunity, and career mobility for direct care health workers (known in Ontario as personal support workers). The Toronto Sector Skills Academy (TSSA) is a 10-month fellowship for workforce leaders focused on improving employment outcomes for low-income workers in the Greater Toronto Area. It is led by the Metcalf Foundation, with support from the Counselling Foundation of Canada and Social Capital Partners, and in partnership with the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program. The Toronto Sector Skills Academy invites guest faculty from across North America to present case studies on innovative workforce development policy and practice. The use of case studies allows fellows to examine complex workforce challenges, discuss best practices and systems change strategies, and consider the implications for their own work going forward.
Jodi provides an overview of PHI’s history, outlining how the workforce intermediary has grown and changed over the past 25 years.
As the leading American authority on the direct care workforce, PHI’s mission is to transform eldercare and disability services by promoting quality direct care jobs as the foundation for quality care.
Jodi explains how PHI leverages its expertise of working side-by-side with direct care workers and their clients. PHI’s trainers, researchers and policy experts collaborate to learn what works — and what doesn’t — in meeting the needs of direct care workers and their clients, in a variety of long-term care settings.
Fellows learn about how PHI implements best practices through hands-on coaching, training, and consulting. This helps direct care providers deliver high-quality care.
PHI works with direct care executive leaders, supervisors, and front-line staff to create fundamentally new systems.
Jodi explains that by offering an array of services from advising on recruitment and retention practices, creating entry-level and advanced curricula and training programs, and producing original research and policy analysis, PHI is able to both ‘raise the floor’ and ‘build ladders’.
Fellows receive advance readings that help deepen their understanding of the case study.
Marc Soberano asks Jodi about the case study.
Ken Tang and Glory Ressler reflect on PHI’s challenge of creating career progression in an industry that primarily consists of low wage jobs.
Lead Facilitator Sheila Maguire breaks the fellows up into three small groups.
Fellows review what they think are the biggest challenges faced by PHI and the program and partnership strategies that they would implement to address the challenges.
Case studies are a core component of the TSSA, providing an opportunity for fellows to learn from innovative, evidenced-based workforce strategies and consider the implications for their own work.
Ken Tang and Stefany Hanson listen to a colleague. Fellows expand their strategic knowledge during case study activities, while building peer networks.
Metcalf’s Inclusive Local Economies Program Director Adriana Beemans and Jodi review key elements to be integrated into the conclusion of the case study.
Gladys Okine shares her breakout group’s proposed recommendations.
Jodi concludes by sharing how PHI expanded advancement opportunities for direct care workers by building new rungs in the industry’s typically underdeveloped career ladder.
“Creating opportunities for career advancement enabled direct care workers to build skills, augment job responsibilities and increase compensation, all of which improved retention and made the job more attractive to future candidates.”
Annu Sood and Qazi Hasan consider the case study. Because fellows come from different types of organizations, they are able to explore different perspectives, which is a critical component of TSSA.
Metcalf Intern Ali Houston and Sheila wrap up the day’s proceedings. Sheila Maguire is a Senior Fellow with the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program, which created the Sector Skills Academy model in 2005. After ten years of running the Academy nationally, Aspen is now partnering with local, regional and national organizations to establish Workforce Leadership Academies. The objective is to develop a network of leaders who will collectively be better able to serve workers’ and business needs. Metcalf started the Toronto Sector Skills Academy in 2016. This leadership program is the first of its kind in Canada.