Improving gender equity in the workplace is a major priority for Ontario. As part of this push, the Ministry of the Status of Women recently launched The Women’s Economic Security Program (WESP) to create funding streams for projects that help women develop and further their skills in the workplace.
An Overview of WESP
WESP is focused on skill development for women, especially among populations who have historically lacked access to opportunity. WESP is divided into four funding streams:
- Women in Skilled Trades
- Women in Information Technology
- General Women’s Employment Training
- Entrepreneurship for Women’s Self-Employment
Proposals were solicited and selected by the Ministry based on criteria such as a focus on regional diversity, targeted populations and organizational capacity. The final list of supported projects includes everything from programs that support women entering skilled trades, to apprenticeship programs to microloan programs for women entrepreneurs.
How Your Organization Can Benefit From Skill Development
Ontario hopes to make major strides when it comes to skills training for women, but government-sponsored programs are only one piece of the puzzle. Private companies can also contribute to skills development among women – and their entire workforce – by creating their own internal training programs.
Data suggests that nearly 40 percent of employees who do not receive skills training on the job, leave their positions within one year. When you consider the high cost of turnover in hard costs, productivity losses and lowered morale, it makes financial sense to develop skills training programs for your employees.
Skills training offers a host of benefits including:
- Improved retention – employees are loyal to employers who invest in their success.
- Increased ability to promote from within as employees grow their skills.
- Improved recruiting abilities – skills training is something new employees want from an employer.
- Improved processes – employees can respond faster to handle issues and solve problems.
Practical Ways to Develop Your Workforce
Developing formal training programs takes time and resources. But while you work on creating those programs, you can immediately implement effective, low-cost programs to start building your workforce. Consider programs such as:
- Functional cross-training: Have employees shadow one another to learn new skills and understand different roles within the organization.
- Mentoring programs: Pair new employees with seasoned employees.
- Reimbursement programs: Provide full or partial reimbursement for classes, degrees and certifications relevant to an employee’s role.
However you choose to invest in skills training, it will pay dividends down the line. It makes smart business sense to support your employees in their desire to grow. The short-term expense of any program will show ROI as you begin to retain top employees, recruit high-caliber talent and achieve your goals.