A labour of love: The long and winding road to accessible LMI
This Challenge Factory work advances the above UN Sustainable Development Goals.
We love telling stories here at Challenge Factory.
Have you ever found yourself frustrated or fed up with a tool you have to use every day in your work? The following story is about two types of professionals who experience this type of frustration—and the role that our community engagement and program management plays in building better tools for the workplaces and careers of the future.
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You’re a construction foreperson, and you’ve been tasked with teaching a group of casual labourers how to use complex tools, like heavy machinery, that are difficult to wield. Even though you’ve found your own tricks and hacks to operating heavy machinery over the years, the idea of explaining your methods to trainees feels overwhelming—maybe even impossible.
Training starts tomorrow. As you lie awake dreading the day, you’re frustrated with the existing training process and the so-called instruction manuals that come with them. You know there’s a better way. You know there may be better equipment. You daydream about creating your own tools. But because it’s not possible for you to decide what get used across all construction sites everywhere, you’re stuck using the same unwieldy tools, day after day.
This is what it feels like for career development professionals trying to use labour market information (LMI) with clients in Canada. Most Canadians don’t have access to reliable, timely, and high-quality sources of LMI that help them make real-time and future-focused decisions about their careers and employment.
LMI reports are available, but usually come with lag times, and it’s difficult or impossible to explore specific LMI data points relevant to their situation. LMI training for career development professionals often elicits groans, sighs, and pushback because, without significant change to the current apps and systems, they remain stuck using unwieldy LMI tools (as do the people they are trying to support).
A leader in the pan-Canadian LMI ecosystem identified a need to return to first principles rather than evolve outdated LMI tools and programs. This is why Challenge Factory was tasked with engaging leaders and partners across sectors who could help build a ground-breaking platform for accessible, useful Canadian labour market information and serving as the project’s program manager.
For details, check out the case study below.
“Challenge Factory has the distinct ability to create the kind of traction we need to get to the next watershed, one that will change how we think about the world of work and how we think about what it means to be human.”
“There is always enormous value when partners can come together, bringing different perspectives, expertise, and resources. Challenge Factory has such a rich and diverse background, between lots of experience working in corporate/business sectors, and lots of experience working with technology. Those are areas of expertise that aren’t often well represented in the our sector.”
“Working with Challenge Factory, I’ve gained a broader perspective on issues. When you work within a sector, you have to really consciously make an effort to shrug off a narrow view of things from within that sector. I really appreciate being jarred out of that so I can see possible solutions that sit outside that internal lens that I’m mired in.”
Case study: How Challenge Factory creates space for community engagement and innovation across sectors
- National non-profit Labour Market Information Council (LMIC)
- LMIC plays a key leadership role in Canada’s labour market information (LMI) ecosystem and needs to ensure the innovative work they do and the impact they have are built on a solid foundation.
- Building LMI data solutions requires the coordination of significant technical, functional, engagement, and communications teams.
- Tools developed for Canadians and organizations that are not informed by career development professionals are less likely to be effective and adopted by end users.
- LMIC is a national non-profit with deep expertise in LMI and economic analysis. They are growing by pushing the boundaries of what their organization does and the impact they have. This growth creates ripple effects in workplace culture, team values, strategic foresight, and beyond.
Who we helped:
- LMIC’s senior leadership
- Members of the LMIC Data Hub project steering committee, including funders
- Members of LMIC’s Career Development Stakeholder Committee
- Staff working across LMIC’s Data Hub workstreams
In 2019, Challenge Factory began working with LMIC on its project to develop the LMIC Data Hub. The Data Hub provides easy-to-access and practical LMI across the pan-Canadian ecosystem through a system of data pipelines that integrate up-to-date, high-quality LMI for front-end data applications of various organizations (e.g., dashboards, career planning tools, websites, mobile apps, PDF reports, etc.). Challenge Factory was tasked to develop the initial project plan, project planning documentation, and approach to stakeholder engagement.
We knew this work would require all of Challenge Factory’s deep expertise in the world of work, technology, complex program management, career development, and community engagement. This suite of expertise is not typically found all within a single organization, so we were uniquely equipped.
Our program management role remains ‘behind the scenes’ as we support skills and capacity-building within the project’s senior leadership team. We fill in project gaps on topics as varied as technology considerations, resourcing complex projects, and navigating politics, partnerships, risk management, legal considerations, and more.
- We began by setting goals to determine the project’s full impact, timelines, objectives, and needs.
- We set up a comprehensive Program Management Office that acts as the day-to-day project coordinator.
- We identified key experts who should be invited to join LMIC’s National Stakeholder Advisory Committee and additional committees, and took the lead in establishing a 28-member Career Development Stakeholder Committee.
- Challenge Factory’s president, Lisa Taylor, chairs the Career Development Stakeholder Committee, and our team develops any required assets that come out of the expertise, advice, and perspectives provided by the committee.
- We participate in the selection of key partners, the development of pilot tools, and the development of implementation plans, as well as provide advice and guidance on a variety of strategic and confidential issues.
- This ground-breaking project brings together a diverse group of experts and key stakeholders across the country, creating new collaboration and innovation that has the capacity to affect systemic change across sectors and in the lives of Canadians.
- New LMI data solution tools, designed by and for Canadians, are currently being piloted.
- Complex relationships across technical, application development, user representatives, communications, and governance teams are coordinated and work in concert.
- Issues that might escalate are contained and risks are actively managed.
- Legacy work in this area has been gathered and curated, honouring what is useful from past systems and tools.
The next steps:
New LMI data solution tools are being piloted right now focused on solving career and employment related challenges for different populations, such as high school students and Quebec-based career counsellors. Meanwhile, technical development continues and long-term strategies related to sustainability and partnerships are in formation. Challenge Factory remains a critical part of the program’s leadership team, focused on community engagement and strategic planning, as the results of early pilots are assessed and the 2023 release schedule and strategy is developed.