Research Synthesis: Post-Secondary Linkage to BC’s Community Social Services Sector


At SPARC BC, we’re committed to building a just and healthy society for all. For over 50 years, we have worked in partnership with individuals, organizations and all levels of government to meet the social development needs of people and communities.

The Community Social Services (CSS) sector in British Columbia (BC) provides a diverse array of essential services and supports to BC residents across various aspects of social development. As outlined in SPARC BC’s Dimensions of Community Social Service in British Columbia Report (2023), the sector encompasses non-governmental, not-for-profit organizations, as well as private contracted service providers, collectively offering a wide range of programs and initiatives, including early years and family programming, access to healthy food, housing security, and more.

However, despite its central importance to social development in BC, the sector faces mounting human resource pressures and staffing challenges, which threaten organizational and system sustainability. These concerns encompass various aspects, including the recruitment of talented individuals and the retention of skilled and compassionate professionals, especially those in leadership roles, due to attrition and high turnover rates. Efforts to develop a provincial labour market strategy for the CSS sector have been hindered by a lack of comprehensive baseline knowledge concerning capacity, training, recruitment, and retention issues confronting the sector.

This synthesis report profiles recent research that has attempted to provide an incremental understanding of the linkages between educational institutions in BC and the CSS sector. These connections are presumed to be vital to supporting and streamlining pathways for interested individuals to pursue careers in CSS that help sustain the sector’s labour force and produce positive impacts for communities across the province. Having established this foundation of knowledge, some emerging tools and options for strengthening the ties between educational institutions and the CSS sector are presented, followed by some considerations for future research and development.

To learn more about this research project and its findings, view the entire body of work here:

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