The softer side of income assistance

The provincial employment and income assistance ministry has budgeted around $100,000 to improve the telephone communication skills of its 800 frontline staff. In an interview with Public Eye, communications director Richard Chambers, explained the training program is meant to improve the staff's ability to deliver ministry services over the phone. "We're committed to this service delivery model. We think we can make it work. And we think there will be two winners if we can deliver our services well by phone," said Mr. Chambers.

"If clients are happy with the service they receive and it works for them, then it's going to be a lot more convenient for hem and less evasive. For us, in the ministry, it means we will have fewer people coming into our offices - fewer waits, fewer backups and fewer people around the buildings. And, ultimately, telephone delivery service could result in significant savings." Earlier today, the government quietly announced that the British Columbia Institute of Technology will be delivering the training program. The following is a complete copy of that announcement, which was posted on BC Bid.

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Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance
Regional Services Division

NOTICE OF INTENT (NOI) TO CONTRACT
NOI # RO-0801

Notice is hereby given by the Ministry of its intent to contract with the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) to develop and provide specialized telephone communication soft skills to approximately 800 Ministry staff throughout the province.

The services are expected to result in:
* Exceptional customer service standards for telephone contact between clients and staff;
* A training program appropriate to new and existing staff; and
* An evaluation framework that outlines new learning and additional training required.

To accomplish this, BCIT will:
* Develop a customized curriculum based on needs assessments conducted with staff;
* Develop a customized curriculum that uses real-life examples and scenarios;
* Pilot the curriculum in two workshops to approximately 25 staff each;
* As appropriate, provide full-day workshops in their Call Centre of Excellence training facility. Where this is not feasible, BCIT must be able to reproduce this workshop experience in various facilities throughout the province;
* Provide feedback to workshop participants as well as the Ministry; and
* Provide completion certificate to all successful participants.

The expected Agreement term is for 15 months from approximately February 2008 to approximately May 2009.

The Ministry has chosen not to call for proposals as it believes that BCIT is uniquely qualified to provide these services:
* BCIT is one of the largest post-secondary institutions in British Columbia. Certification is to the certificate, diploma, post-diploma and Bachelor of Technology degree levels in the fields of health, business, computer systems, electrical/electronics, process and renewable resource technologies, construction, and transportation.
* BCIT's goals of educational quality and institutional excellence are measured by high student achievement standards. As a strategy to achieve those goals, the BCIT Board of Governors has allocated significant resources for faculty development, curriculum design, facilities enhancement, and student support services. The goal is to optimize the skill and knowledge development of students in the most flexible, cost effective manner possible.
* The Province of British Columbia has designated BCIT as its provincial training institution for advanced technology. This mandate strengthens BCIT's linkages with business and industry, and emphasizes the Institute's role in preparing job-ready graduates and high performing employees.

Service providers wishing to object to this decision must contact Hee Kim by facsimile at (250) 952-6450 on, or before, 10:00 am Tuesday, February 5, 2008, presenting in writing specific reasons for their objection. If justified, the Ministry will convene a meeting with Ministry representatives and the service providers to receive representations concerning this contract.

The service provider's ability to offer the services resulting in the same or better solutions at the same or a lower cost in the same time frame will be the key criterion with regard to the consideration of objections.

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