Why underemployment

Underemployment disproportionately affects people living in Toronto Pearson’s neighbouring communities and is a major barrier to shared regional economic prosperity.

Findings from our pre-COVID research indicated that 43% of local residents in the Toronto Pearson region (17 km radius) were underemployed -compared to average rates of 39% seen in the broader GTA.

Uncovering underemployment whitepaper

The paper was commissioned to proactively generate ideas for policy and programs and help focus strategic priorities for Toronto Pearson’s community investment program in 2019. The findings of the whitepaper helped set stronger guidelines and clear funding priorities for the Propeller Project during our call for proposals for the Uplift Fund. The paper identified potential solutions and opportunities for employment training programs to achieve.

With these foundational evidence-based insights in mind, we awarded seven community investment projects exclusively focused on underemployment. These projects began in April 2020 just as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged.

Our 2019 awarded projects were:

  • ACCES Employment – MyPlan Program: Pilot program working with Toronto Pearson employees. A career exploration model to work on portfolio building and skills enhancement to support underemployed workers and help find career paths to pursue.
  • Achev – Cultural Sensitivity Training/Inclusive Manager: The training will work to sensitize small, medium size and large employers to better coach and understand how to support their employees who are newcomers to Canada.
  • Brands for Canada – Suitable Impressions Program: Suitable Impressions Workshop is a first impressions focused employment program. Participants get conduct, communication, and confidence building training to help them with job interviews, as well as new work appropriate clothing, supply of personal care items, and a voucher for a hair cut.
  • Hospitality Workers Training Centre – Uplift Career Lattice Model: Project aims to create a career ladder/lattice map for Pearson’s hospitality and food service sector to help job seekers, workers, employers and community support teams visualize and learn about developmental opportunities available for planning and progressing through a desired career path within a specific sector and/or labour market.
  • CivicAction – HireNext: HireNext is a tool that helps employers update their recruitment and retention strategies to ensure the conditions are in place for young workers to have better employment opportunities. Toronto Pearson supports the expansion of the tool in Peel.
  • Peel Halton Workforce Development Group – An ethnography of underemployment in Mississauga and Brampton: Engage two groups who are susceptible to underemployment (immigrants and out of school youth) in 12-month ethnographic assessment of the experience of underemployment in Mississauga and Brampton. The results of this project will add depth to our local understanding of underemployment, helping our community to move beyond statistics and numbers to assessment of experience and impact.
  • Toronto Region Board of Trade: Economic BluePrint Institute – Analysis of the labour force and jobs—both skills required and occupations available—for the area surrounding Toronto Pearson. The analysis helps benchmark competitiveness and location of the labour force, and also understand the resiliency of the workforce to economic/technological change, which then will inform re-skilling and re-training programs

While we are aware that an investment of $1M is not sufficient to fox the issue of underemployment, we selected projects, organizations and issue area where we could raise awareness and understanding of the issues as well as build capacity of our partner organizations and better position them for future success.

Our 2021 Evaluation Report

We partnered with Cathexis consulting to monitor progress of our Propeller Project and its impact on community outcomes over time. This report highlights the progress and learnings from six investment projects, and it incorporates outcomes from earlier investments focused on un/underemployment. Read the report.

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