Building Employment Niagara Networks (BENN) Project Team

In November 2017, a Social Assistance and Employment Opportunities (SAEO) project team launched the Building Employment Niagara Networks (BENN) on-line technology solution.  BENN was developed to respond to gaps within the provincial database which does not provide comprehensive information about Ontario Works clients’ skills, education, and work experience.   Building on the provincial system, BENN captures real-time data and matches the preferences, skills and abilities of individuals with jobs, training and placement opportunities. Taking a comprehensive planning approach, the SAEO team engaged with 50 community and business partners, 650 clients and over 70 staff. This resulted in a community goal to develop a case-management tool that supports planning for labour market training, employment opportunities and helps staff to better understand clients. To date, 4500 enhanced client employment assessments have been completed. The average monthly Ontario Works caseload in Niagara was projected to increase from 10,816 (2014) to 11,818 (2017). The goal of BENN was to bring caseload numbers below increased projections. Since the BENN launch, the shift from manual tracking to system automation has resulted in more effective referrals to training programs and employment opportunities.  To date over 300 jobs have been posted in the system. Preliminary results have shown a significant decrease in the time to match clients to opportunities reducing the length of time someone is in receipt of social assistance.