ANTIGONISH: A new program aimed to help recent post-secondary graduates connect with businesses, received provincial funding during their launch event at the Antigonish CACL Community Centre on August 1.
Young people and new Nova Scotians in the Strait region will now have more opportunities to build their professional networks with the expansion of the Connector Program.
Premier Stephen McNeil announced a provincial investment of $100,000 to the program which will be delivered by the Eastern Strait Regional Enterprise Network.
“Creating opportunities for our youth and new Nova Scotians is an important part of building our economy,” said Premier McNeil. “Expanding this program gives more recent graduates and new residents another chance to succeed here by making meaningful connections with local mentors.”
The program will connect local businesses, organizations and well established community volunteers to Nova Scotians who are interested in starting and growing their careers in the province. The connector provides the connectee with three contacts, and then each of those contacts provide additional referrals.
Connectors are people in the communtiy who know large numbers of people and are in the habit of making introductions. They know people through social, cultural, professional, and economic circles, and have a special gift for bringing people together who work or live in different circles.
“We’ve had about 2,500 connections, we’ve seen about 1,000 connective jobs created out of it but, more importantly, it builds the confidence to be able to start reaching out and filling the void with the skill shortage we have in our province,” McNeil said.
It’s through projects like this, that the province has seen a higher in-migration, with more young people staying in the province, McNeil said.
“It’s the first time in 32 years [that] we’ve seen that trend and we believe that trend will continue this year, it’s a very positive thing.”
ESREN chief executive officer John Beaton said the Connector Program expanding into the Strait region provides a solid resource to attract and retain the skills needed by the various sectors in our region.
“The growth of our regional economy depends on re-population strategies that include the right kinds of skill sets and this program will be an important piece to us getting there.”
McNeil noted the government can ultimately provide the support, ESREN can facilitate, but it will require the community’s rubber-stamp to make the program truly work.
“As government we play a small role but it will be the private sector and the community who will actually make this a success,” he said. “That is why we want to provide them with the ownership of it; we’ll walk with them but it will be a program they’ll have to lead.”
Matt Berrigan, project manager said the program is extremely important, especially for our economy with an aging population.
“If we don’t adapt or adopt an initiative like the connector program, in the future, all these businesses won’t be able to sustain, because there just won’t be the workers.”
By becoming a connectee, you’re able to learn the local job market while enhancing your professional network.
Even though one-in-every-three connectees find employment through the connector program, the main goal is to create a professional network for your region, Berrigan said.
“Yes, we want the connector program to result in jobs, but creating and establishing a professional network of your own, you’re more inclined to stay,” he said. “Sometimes it could be discouraging not knowing anybody, or knowing of little opportunity, the connector program bridges the gap and kind of provides the next step in finding that opportunity.”
The new ESREN Connector Program is part of the National Connector Program, which now has successful programs in 35 cities across Canada. In Nova Scotia, the Connector Program is available in the western region, the Annapolis Valley, Halifax and Cape Breton.
Anybody looking to join or obtain more information on ESREN’s Connector Program can contact Berrigan directly at (902) 449-1273, firstname.lastname@example.org or through www.esren.ca , or through the national program’s website www.connectorprogram.ca.