New provincial program aims to connect more people with in-demand job markets

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Labour Minister Lena Metlege Diab says what makes the program unique is the way it's aimed at the specific needs of each community. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
Labour Minister Lena Metlege Diab says what makes the program unique is the way it's aimed at the specific needs of each community. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

People across Nova Scotia who face barriers trying to tap into local job markets are getting help through a program announced Tuesday by the provincial government.

The back-to-work community partnership initiative is a $10-million program allocating money to 25 groups across the province to provide skills training and connections to in-demand job areas.

Labour Minister Lena Metlege Diab said she expects the programs, which run for 12-18 months, will help upwards of 1,000 people.

"Partnering directly with community groups is what is going to allow us to find the most innovative solutions and best support for Nova Scotians who need it the most," she said during the announcement.

"We know there's a lot of groups that have been affected and disadvantaged a lot more than others because of the pandemic."

Groups tailored programs to local needs

The program was created with money from Ottawa via the workforce development agreement the federal government signed with the province.

Organizations were selected following a call for proposals to address specific, local labour market needs. The initiative focuses on hiring skilled workers and providing support to people, particularly those from underrepresented communities.

Groups receiving money, which is capped at $500,000, include the Digby Area Learning Association, the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS), the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre and the Nova Scotia Construction Sector Council.

Jennifer Watts, CEO of ISANS, said their funding will be used to create two bridge programs to help clients find work in the fields of carpentry and personal care work.

Jennifer Watts is CEO of ISANS.
Jennifer Watts is CEO of ISANS.(Robert Short/CBC)

Similar bridge programs at ISANS have focused on helping people overcome barriers to work, such as credential recognition, lack of networking opportunities and communication skills, and Watts has high hopes for the new offerings.

"The bridging programs have really been essential to seeing people connecting to the labour market here," she said.

"It allows them to build on the skills they have or, if they have not worked in that area, to get some experience to work with local employers here and to really build that relationship."

Metlege Diab said the ISANS example shows why the government wanted community groups to tailor how the programs would be used in their respective areas.

"They know the people that live in their communities. They also know the employers and the businesses in their communities."

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