On Friday, the NSCC accepted a donation of $100,000 from RBC to help fund a new work experience program for students. Seen here (from the left) are Bob MacEachern, vice-chair of the NSCC Board of Governers; Bruce Young, vice president of Commercial Financial Services for RBC; Patricia DePalama RBC regional vice president for Cape Breton and Northeastern Nova Scotia; Don Bureaux, president of the NSCC; and Tom Gunn, principal for the NSCC’s Strait Area Campus.

PORT HAWKESBURY: The Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) Strait Area Campus has introduced a new program to help students gain hands-on work experience.

On Friday, the NSCC officially unveiled a new two-year pilot project through the Make Way Campaign for NSCC. The campus has received $100,000 in funding through the RBC’s Future Launch program.

“We recognize that students are often faced with a dilemma. They have great skills and great knowledge and great training, but to bridge the gap from that to employment, they are lacking experience. So this has been a partnership where we’re allowing our students to work and learn,” said NSCC president Don Bureaux.

Participants in the program will be hired for part-time, on-campus jobs in their field of study. Bureaux said the campus offers many opportunities for students to gain work experience while building relevant career skills.

Harold Montgomery, a Marine Engineering Technology student has been employed through the program to help develop automated electrical training aids for the Nautical Institute’s Marine Department, and is researching solutions for food-waste recycling on campus.

Bureaux said the experience that students gain through the program will help change the narrative with prospective employers.

“They’re able to get real world experience in their field of study that they can immediately apply to their portfolio and their professional profile, and then translate that into a career after they’re done studying with NSCC,” he said.

In addition to building career skills, Bureaux says the program can also help some students overcome financial hurdles while studying at NSCC.

“We have students who have incredible abilities to be successful, but they are facing a financial barrier to success,” said Bureaux. “So this is a model that we’ve developed where from day one, right off the bat they are able to begin their learning, and also be rewarded and paid for that ability.”

Students in the program will also have access to additional job-readiness training, including safety certifications, as well as mentorship, networking and other professional development opportunities.

Bureaux said the campus already has approximately six students who are involved with the program and he hopes to include more participants in the fall.

“It’s a pilot program that we’re starting at the Strait Area Campus, and we’ll be monitoring the results very closely, but our goal would be to spread this model right across the entire college and all campuses across Nova Scotia,” said Bureaux.

Bureaux said he feels grateful to RBC for their support of the project.

“This is a great partnership that we have with RBC and the opportunities that it provides for our students to get real world experience is just so fantastic,” he said.