WorkBC offers employment services to people in British Columbia in person at WorkBC centres throughout the province and online through WorkBC.ca.
They specialize in helping people who face barriers to employment find their first job, or the next one.
- The services range from local and provincial job listings, workshops and skills assessment to targeted programs for those needing additional help, training, job placement support, work experience programs and wage subsidies.
- With in-depth knowledge of the local economy, the people who operate WorkBC can provide advice and guidance to anyone looking for work.
- WorkBC was launched in 2012. In 2015, the ministry began contract renewal guided by government’s procurement process — a fair, open and transparent system used throughout government to ensure that public dollars are appropriately spent. The procurement process complied with the Province of B.C.'s social impact procurement guidelines: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/services-for-government/bc-bid-resources/reference-resources/social-impact-procurement-guidelines
- A request for proposals for WorkBC employment services was completed in 2018 and new contracts will take effect on April 1, 2019.
- More than $287 million will be invested through WorkBC programs in 2019-20. This encompasses WorkBC centres, assistive technology, apprentice services and the Community and Employer Partnerships program. Funding is provided through the federal government’s Labour Market Development Agreement, along with $29 million from the Province.
The new WorkBC model
What changes are coming to WorkBC with the new contracts?
Beginning April 1, 2019, WorkBC will offer better services for people who need support to re-enter the workforce, access training opportunities and find good jobs.
The services people count on will continue to be available with service improvements that include:
- increasing the number of WorkBC centres to 103 locations, up from 84.
- moving to an outcome-based funding model that makes people’s success in the job market a priority for service providers.
- extending eligibility for specialized WorkBC services to anyone who has paid into employment insurance for five of the last ten years, removing employment insurance eligibility barriers.
- helping people find a better job if their hours are unstable, or if the work is not in line with their skills.
- providing an additional $9 million in direct supports like skills training and helping people access tools so they can pursue a career in the trades.
- improving services in rural communities by consolidating administrative catchment areas to align with economic regions used by the federal and provincial governments.
In addition, two WorkBC programs will now be offered provincially, providing consistent, reliable services for people, no matter where they live.
- The Assistive Technology Services program, which offers adaptive technology to help people with disabilities pursue employment opportunities, will be delivered by the Neil Squire Society.
- Apprentice services, including processing financial support applications and help for apprentices to collect employment insurance benefits while in school, will be delivered by Douglas College.
How did government consult with people before making these changes to WorkBC?
Work to renew the WorkBC program has been underway since 2015 when the ministry engaged in stakeholder consultations. More than 5,000 WorkBC clients were interviewed and 263 surveys were completed by ministry representatives, service providers, staff, employers and selected experts.
The consultation report is available at: www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/organizational-structure/ministries-organizations/social-development-poverty-reduction/epbc-evaluation-201603.pdf
The ministry used this report to gather additional feedback and further refine the enhancements that would form the new WorkBC contracts. Changes include simplified program administration, more funding directed to financial supports for clients and better services for people looking for work.
What kinds of organizations provide WorkBC Employment Services?
WorkBC centres are run by organizations with extensive experience delivering employment services. Through the request for proposal, they had to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the local job market, the ability to develop community level partnerships and a service-delivery model that catered to the community.
While there will be WorkBC centres with a new service provider, only one organization is new to the program. The rest have been delivering WorkBC services since 2012.
Will there be more non-profit companies operating WorkBC centres?
In the new contracts, the proportion of WorkBC funding and contracts held by local non-profits will increase to approximately 57% beginning April 1, 2019 (up from 49%). The proportion held by for-profit organizations will decrease to approximately 39% (down from 49%). Public institutions hold the remaining contracts and funding.
Many WorkBC centres also contract with local organizations to provide specialized supports. There are 130 sub-contractors that have been retained by WorkBC service providers to deliver services and support partnerships in the community. The majority (71%) of these organizations are local not-for-profit agencies — an 11% increase over the old contracts.
Funding for local WorkBC centres has changed. What are the changes and how will they better support people looking for employment?
Helping people find sustainable employment is the focus for the new program. To support this, there is a new funding model that ties service provider payments to a person’s success finding work.
In the old contracts, service providers received funding for operations. They were also paid for each service. For example, if someone went to a workshop or met with a case manager, they received a set payment based on the service provided, even if the individual did not find work.
In the new contracts, service providers will still receive a consistent and dependable monthly payment for operational costs, the facilities and staff needed to operate a WorkBC centre. However, instead of being paid for each client interaction, they will receive a performance payment when they successfully help someone find and maintain employment.
These payments will vary depending on individual people and their barriers to work. For example, when a job-ready individual — someone with few or no barriers to employment — successfully connects to the job market, a contractor could receive up to $2,000. For someone who faces barriers to employment, the payments can go as high as $12,000. Service providers will receive performance payments when a client sustains employment at four, 24 and 52 weeks.
Will any communities lose their local WorkBC centre?
Overall, the number of WorkBC centres in the province will increase, from 84 to 103.
However, people may still see changes in their community:
- The location of a WorkBC centre may change if there is a new contractor.
- WorkBC service providers in Nanaimo, Chilliwack and Coquitlam will consolidate locations from two centres to one.
- Victoria will move from three centres to two.
- The WorkBC centre in Whistler will close on March 31, 2019, and people will be able to access services in Squamish.
Why will some WorkBC centres only be open part-time now?
Out of 103 WorkBC Centres, 28 will be open between 24 to 39 hours a week. Ten of these centres were previously open full-time, 15 were satellite offices with limited services and hours, and three are new WorkBC Centres.
The ministry worked with stakeholders and the current service providers to understand the need in their communities. Based on need, historical usage and analysis of the demographic and labour market changes that have occurred over the last few years, there were some catchments where service providers could choose part-time hours.
The ministry will work closely with service providers to monitor these centres and make sure that the hours continue to meet people’s needs.
Does WorkBC support a living wage for staff hired by the service provider?
Under the contract, staff hired by WorkBC Centres must be paid no less than the median prevailing wage rate as set by the Federal Job Bank website. For example, the prevailing wage for an employment counsellor ranges from $23.63 to $33.00 per hour, which is greater than the living wage in all parts of B.C.
What will happen to staff at WorkBC centres where there is a new service provider?
Staff in WorkBC centres bring specific skills and experience and it is expected that most of them will find an opportunity with the new provider. Ministry staff worked quickly to finalize contracts so that service providers can get their teams in place and provide certainty for staff.
Why did government go through this procurement process? Why not just continue with the organizations already delivering services?
Government has a responsibility to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately in an efficient and transparent manner. Large contracts cannot be directly awarded — they must be put out to tender so that every organization has an equal opportunity to bid on the contract.
Did for-profit organizations have an advantage?
In a B.C. government procurement process, all organizations are treated the same. Proposals from not-for-profit agencies are evaluated against the same criteria as any other proponent.
In following government-mandated procurement processes, the ministry ensured that the process was fair and transparent for all applicants. Based on the outcomes of the procurement process, a considerable number of not-for-profit organizations proved themselves very competitive against for-profit organizations. In the new contracts, the proportion of WorkBC funding and contracts held by non-profits will increase to approximately 57% (up from 49%).
Were service providers chosen because they had the lowest bid?
All government contracts use financial scoring criteria to ensure value for money with public funds. For the WorkBC procurement, financial scoring accounted for 20% of the evaluation, and 80% was based on the organization’s approach and capability to deliver employment services.
Service providers are paid to deliver services through a combination of fixed fees (for infrastructure and operating costs) and performance fees (payments they will receive when someone is successful in finding employment). While proponents could bid competitively on the fixed fee, the total value of the contract did not change. An organization that bid lower on the fixed fees had more applied to performance fees. In this way, service providers can access the full value of the contract through strong client services and better outcomes for people seeking work.
There are fewer catchments. Does that mean there are fewer WorkBC centres?
While the number of administrative catchment areas will go from 73 to 45, the number of WorkBC centres will increase to 103, up from 84 locations.
The new catchment areas were based on local health authorities and align with the economic regions used by federal and provincial governments. Consolidating catchments allows government to target an additional $9 million to client supports, such as wage subsidy programs and training opportunities, and will also help improve service in rural areas. For example, in northern B.C., the number of WorkBC centres is increasing from 12 to 18.
What does government invest in WorkBC?
The budget for WorkBC services in 2019-20 will exceed overall historical spending.
Budget: new contracts:
- 2019-20: $249,015,000
- 2017-18: $232,310,639
- 2016-17: $241,983,078
- 2015-16: $229,437,877
- 2014-15: $220,143,553
- 2013-14: $213,422,523
- 2012-13: $182,972,700
Why must contractors only use WorkBC branding when promoting employment services?
The goal is to provide a consistent experience for people accessing WorkBC, no matter where they live. WorkBC plays a leading role in B.C.’s employment and training strategy and has become an acknowledged and familiar presence around the province.