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Face of the Profession

10 May 2023 9:36 AM | Anonymous

By the IAP2 Canada Research Committee

This fourth and final installment of key findings from IAP2’s last State of the Practice survey shines a spotlight on the demographic profile of P2 practitioners who participated and shares some insights into how the face of the P2 practice may be changing.

P2 Practitioner Profile

Half (50%, up from 39% in 2017) of P2 practitioners who made their voices heard for this survey have been practitioners between 10 and 24 years. A little more than 40% have practiced in their field between 1 and 9 years.

The government sector represents more than three-quarters (77%) of P2 practitioner respondents’ primary type of involvement in P2; this is consistent with past results where 80% reported employment with a government body. The private sector represents less than a third (29%, up from 24% in 2017). P2 practitioners also continue to work in non-profit organizations and academic institutions.

P2 practitioners play various roles within the P2 practice. Members who responded to the survey heavily represented P2 specialists (62%), followed by facilitator (56%) and consultant (56%). Less than a third play the role of a planner (29%). This helps explain the continuing additional memberships respondents have in Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) and the International Association of Facilitators (IAF). There is a noted rise in respondents with memberships in environment-related organisations including EcoCanada, Association Québécoise pour l’évaluation d’impacts (AQÉI) and various waste-related associations. Members are also involved with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) and International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

P2 practice is widely spread across a number of communities and industries. Most members who responded to the survey are typically involved in policy (64%) or land-use planning initiatives (64%). More than half of respondents are involved in community development (52%) and transportation (49%) projects. Fully one-third of respondents work with Indigenous communities. Other reported areas of focus include health, environment, education, affordable housing, waste, energy, and sustainability. A small number of respondents are involved in mining (12%) or human security and peacebuilding (12%) initiatives. While similar to results from prior surveying, there is less concentration of activity in community development, energy and mining in this most recent survey.

The majority of P2 practitioners who participated in the survey come from Alberta (38%), followed by British Columbia (32%), however, participation also came from every province in Canada, the Northwest Territories, and an international respondent.

Overall participation was half of that of the previous survey. Ninety-three percent (93%) of respondents are IAP2 members (it was 89% in 2017). We anticipate this reflects a COVID-19 impact as the survey was released early during the global pandemic. This survey has highlighted the much has changed as a result of COVID-19. In response to these changes, the surveys IAP2 Canada conducts will also be changing to ensure the information gathered from practitioners provides insights of value in return.

Perspectives on Effectiveness of P2 Process

Practitioner perspectives on the effectiveness of the P2 process has evolved in the last few years, perhaps demonstrating a deepening in the practice as more practitioners are taking advantage of IAP2 training, and a widening of scope more evening across various community and industry domains.

The majority (98%) of respondents agree P2 brings value to a process (the remaining 2% holding a neutral stance). Eighty-nine percent (89%, down from 94%) believe P2 benefits outweigh its cost and 11% feel neutral. Unlike the 2017 survey, no one identified that costs outweigh benefits. Sixty-three percent (63%, up from 58% in 2017) are feeling that P2 is a costly process. Eleven percent (11%) disagree, however.

This may be attributable to the wide variety of benefits identified through survey responses:

  • All respondents (100%) find P2 is being used to assist organizations with decision making;
  • 96% (up from 89% in 2017) see benefits in using P2 to extract local knowledge to understand issues and concerns;
  • 80% (consistent with 2017) believe P2 is being used to enhance support for a project;
  • 78% (consistent with 2017) see social media and online tools increasing the effectiveness of the P2 process;
  • 76% (up from 71%) agree the public perceives P2 to be a valuable process;
  • 65% are seeing P2 contribute effectively to processes it is embedded within (such as Environmental Assessments); and
  • Some (42%, up from 34%) are observing P2 used to directly assist organizations with decision-making.

The question of value, in comparison to costs, is one that rises often for practitioners of P2. The IAP2 Research Committee are interested in studying the ‘returns’ possible through P2 and hosted a workshop at the North American Conference in Banff to begin exploring the topic. It is our hope that a clear, succinct and evidence-based analysis of benefits will demonstrate what many practitioners already know -- P2 is a value-creating activity.

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