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Settlement Sector and Technology Task Group Preliminary Report (2020)

Posted on:
February 2, 2021

What is this research about?

This report focuses on the future of how the immigrant and refugee-serving sector delivers services to newcomers and communities. The Task Group's work includes looking at infrastructure, privacy issues (e.g. advice and protocols on how to safeguard information), professional development for staff, including digital literacy and addressing the digital divide among newcomers and in our communities.

What do you need to know?

The Settlement Sector and Technology Task Group (coordinated by AMSSA, reporting to IRCC’s National Settlement and Integration Council (NSIC)) is working to discover, examine, and learn about the settlement sector’s needs to successfully implement digital and hybrid service delivery models. Their 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.

What did the researchers do?

Researchers sent out a national bi-lingual survey to the sector. The survey had two paths, one for front-line workers, one for management/leadership. The survey was made up predominantly of open-ended questions to provide spaces for details and comments.

They received a total of 366 responses:

  • English front-line worker - 216
  • English manager/director - 113
  • French front-line worker - 15
  • French manager/director - 22

Before and and while our survey was open, they also created an online form with 7 high level questions to help us understand sector experiences and ideas. They received 26 submissions, many with detailed answers and information. This form will continue to be available for input.

Sixteen interviews have been conducted involving 25 people. One group interview was conducted with over 12 participants. One focus group was held with 20 participants (with a follow-up conversation to be held in the near future, due to time constraints with the original meeting).

What did the researchers find?

Organizations that appear positive about integrating a digital service framework indicated that COVID-19 expanded and fast-tracked their exploration of digital modes of service delivery. Those who were uncertain about future digital service delivery indicated they are unclear about how to restructure and evaluate which programs should be kept online and which ones should be removed from the online environment.

What researchers found is in part what we already know about the sector from the vast amount of research that has been done on innovation and technology integration and use. There are many innovative practices, teams, and organizations. And there are many who struggle with how to integrate technology effectively in their work.

Even within high performing organizations, there is much work to get done. We’ve also confirmed the sector’s interest to learn from each other. To learn about models of digital and hybrid service delivery. To understand what the implications are for job roles and descriptions, new roles, professional competencies, and how we even define and measure success in digital and hybrid service delivery.

The major themes identified are:

  • Defining what a digital and hybrid/blended service model is - we have elements of a sector-wide model in the language side of the sector which has been providing blended language services for many years. We also have elements in the settlement side. We need to bring them together.
  • Looking at the tech itself - infrastructure, operations, privacy and security as core competencies, models of support within agencies
  • Change management within organizations and how to implement that across the sector regardless of organizational size and current capacity
  • Sector digital literacy, professional development, upskilling, creation of new and expanded roles related to technology
  • Addressing digital inequity and the digital divide, including recognizing that hybrid doesn’t mean either technology or in-person but increasing options for newcomers to choose how they access services
  • Building better systems and competencies around data and understanding newcomers, their technology and communications use and preferences, and how to ensure that their voices are at the centre of decisions being made about how to best serve them
  • How to define and measure success in digital has come up and is something we want to ensure the sector is comfortable with
  • And ensuring intergovernmental cooperation. The sector has a number of funders and supporters. The possibilities of technology interoperability require better government interoperability.

How can you use this research?

This research builds on the vast knowledge and previous research on technology and innovation in the sector (A chronology of technology and innovation research in the Canadian immigrant and refugee-serving sector) as well as knowledge about interesting case studies in digital and blended/hybrid service delivery. This preliminary report was created to share the initial findings of the Task Group and to spur further discussion. Review this report to confirm if it resonates with your own experiences, and contribute to the work the Task Group is doing towards their final report in March 2021.


Settlement Sector & Technology Task Group Preliminary Report

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Settlement Sector & Technology Task Group Preliminary Report - Complete Survey Analysis

Rapport préliminaire du groupe de travail sur le secteur de l’établissement et la technologie

Télécharger et consulter les données complètes de notre sondage



The Settlement Sector and Technology Task Group (coordinated by AMSSA, reporting to IRCC’s National Settlement and Integration Council (NSIC)) is working to discover, examine, and learn about the settlement sector’s needs to successfully implement digital and hybrid service delivery models.