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Phase 1 Provincial Summary
New Brunswick Works (NB Works) was a longitudinal demonstration project of Human Resources Development New Brunswick (HRDNB). It was directed toward enhancing welfare recipients' employability and self-sufficiency through a three-year program commitment to the participant and continuous case management. Given its demonstration project status, it was also a learning tool for future programs. NB Works began in 1992 and ended in 1998.
The Department of Advanced Education and Labour (DAEL) was responsible for employment placements and training, including upgrading, in the community colleges. HRDNB was responsible for case management, career planning, career consulting and topping up benefits if required. Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) provided financial income support in the form of a training allowance and some special benefits, such as child care and transportation. The HRDNB case manager was the point of contact throughout a participant's involvement in the project, from the recruitment phase, through the initial job placement, academic upgrading and skills training, to the transition to employment.
Training and education was provided by community colleges, a trade school (Memramcook Institute), employers (internships) and private training centres (purchased training). NB Works used some existing programs, purchased some programs from private institutions and had some specifically designed. Employment activities occured for 20 weeks at the beginning of the project so that the participant qualified for unemployment insurance and the training allowance. Employment activities also occurred during the upgrading or training phase (as an internship) and during the Partners (subsidized employment) program that followed NB Works.
Participation in the program was voluntary. NB Works targeted recipients with dependent children, limited education and few work skills and very little previous labour force attachment. Potential participants had to have Grade 7 to 12 education but not a high school diploma and had to have been receiving social assistance in New Brunswick for at least six consecutive months during the two previous years. Eighty per cent of participants were women, many of whom had preschool or elementary school aged children. Visible minority groups accounted for three per cent and aboriginal people two per cent of program participants. Seven per cent of participants had declared a disability that had affected their past school performance, 11% had a disability that had affected their past workplace performance, and 8% to 11% had a disability that had affected their work in the home.
Participants were expected to complete the program in three years, but there was some flexibility.
In designing the program, consideration was given to promoting well-paid jobs for women, primarily low-income female lone parents. Also considered was the match between the career goals of NB Works participants and the projected growth for selected occupations in New Brunswick. Participating employers could not displace existing employees or volunteers.
Program funders included Human Resources Development Canada, HRDNB and DAEL, with a 50-50 cost sharing agreement between the federal and provincial levels of government. The initial budget included $28.5 million for the employment phase (DAEL), $52.2 million for the training development fund (50-50 federal-provincial split) and $68.4 million for employment insurance (HRDC). Program funding over six years was $177 million. Over the six years of the project, 2,800 participants entered NB Works.
The program selection and orientation was extensive. Potential participants were identified and invited to information sessions about the different program phases and expectations of NB Works. Orientation was usually provided through group sessions over two weeks and was available in all areas of the province. Interested people were given an academic achievement test to ensure that they were eligible to enter the intermediate or senior level of academic upgrading. The next step was attendance at a pre-employment session given by a private firm under contract to the project. During this session, the potential participants were prepared for employment, and their attitudes were assessed. Participants were then chosen for the project. Case managers, career consultants and DAEL staff provided program participants with ongoing assistance and follow-up. Periodic monitoring of a participant's involvement and performance was maintained.
An evaluation was conducted midway through the project and further evaluation is currently under way to examine the process, impact, cost-effectiveness and long-term policy implications of the project and the level of participant satisfaction. Evaluation results will be used to assist in the design of new programs.
HRDNB has recently been restructured, including the development of a new management information system, NB Case. At the same time, the province has significantly increased the number of case management staff. HRDNB is also developing an Education and Training Strategy that will guide the department in meeting its mandate of assisting recipients in their move to self-sufficiency.
© Copyright Canadian Council on Social Development, 1999. All rights reserved.