Preliminary report: Settlement sector and technology task group
AUTHORS AMSSA, reporting to IRCC’s National Settlement and Integration Council (NSIC)
The team responsible for this report is working to discover, examine, and learn about the settlement sector’s needs to successfully implement digital and hybrid service delivery models. The mandate is to identify multiple digital transformation and hybrid service delivery models (where relevant) rather than aiming at one unique model that may not easily be replicable within our sector. This discussion is about the future of how we deliver services to newcomers and communities.
This preliminary report provides a snapshot of the work so far. It provides a thematic overview of survey, interview, focus group, online form input to date. The survey, interviews, and other submissions provided the authors with narratives of settlement practitioners’ interactions with digital technologies and adaptation of remote/digital service delivery.
How does this research apply to my work?
For management, the findings emphasize their digital transformation organizational practices which encompass reflection on organizational difficulties and successes, institutional evaluation and measurement on digital transformation, as well as needed training and support in future settlement work.
In addition, this report outlines a comprehensive understanding of digital equity. As many frontline practitioners work closely and directly with newcomers and support their settlement and integration, clients’ experiences with digital technologies are closely linked to settlement practitioners’ involvement with digital tools and service delivery. The data analysis pinpoints barriers faced by settlement workers who also confront digital divide dilemmas.
What should I take away from this research?
The findings and data analysis identified the importance of both customization and localization of digital service delivery, along with pan-sectoral strategies. These include ethical considerations and sector standardization on topics such as digital security, digital workplace collaboration and integration, and digital service competencies and policies.
Organizations that appear positive about integrating a digital service framework indicated that COVID-19 expanded their exploration of digital modes of service delivery. These respondents also expressed optimism as serving clients online has allowed them to continue to stay connected with their communities, including newcomers who had previously not accessed their services, expanded service accessibility, and saved transportation costs. Moreover, informants pointed out that staff may not be comfortable moving back entirely to in-person programming since a blended service model has concretely accommodated many client needs (such as lack of childcare, inability to access in-person service hours, travel time, lack of services in their community (rural and small centre especially), mobility challenges, and client preferences for remote services).
What’s the next step?
The goal after this report is disseminated is to continue to conduct interviews and focus groups to ensure that every sector stakeholder has an opportunity to contribute to our work. The authors anticipate conducting at least 20 more interviews and at least 20 focus groups in January/February 2021.
The authors are looking forward to your feedback on this preliminary report. They would like to know what they have missed, about interesting and innovative projects you are working on to provide digital services, or address the digital divide.