Can community-based employment help the unemployed develop their transferable skills and social capital? A major Canadian study released today by the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC) reveals promising results in that respect. “Improving skills, networks, and livelihoods through community-based work: Three-year impacts of the Community Employment Innovation Project” presents interim results from the Community Employment Innovation Project (CEIP), a program designed to encourage the longer-term employability of participants while supporting local community development in regions of continuing high unemployment.
In exchange for their entitlements to Employment Insurance (EI) or Income Assistance (IA), CEIP offered individuals work on community projects for up to three years, giving them a significant period of stable income as well as an opportunity to gain work experience, acquire new skills, and expand their network of contacts. CEIP’s design emphasized the central role of communities, which were responsible for identifying and prioritizing their local needs and then developing projects that would employ CEIP workers to meet those needs.
Based on data collected 40 months after the enrolment of participants, Improving skills, networks, and livelihoods through community-based work: Three-year impacts of the Community Employment Innovation Project shows that CEIP led to substantially higher rates of full-time employment, increased earnings, and reduced receipt of EI and IA benefits, all of which were sustained for the three years of program eligibility. Participants also reported improved well-being, with reductions in the extent and severity of poverty and hardship, and increased life satisfaction. At the same time, CEIP produced significant improvements in participants’ social capital in ways that may provide a bridge to future employment, and the program’s effects on transferable skills were also significant, resulting in a potentially more employable workforce.
For more information, please contact David Gyarmati, Project Director.