Working for you: Nova Scotia Works celebrates 1st year

By Lois Ann Dort    

GUYSBOROUGH – Last year the government of Nova Scotia amalgamated numerous employment service organizations to create a streamlined, one-stop shopping experience for job seekers and employers. The aptly named Nova Scotia Works is the new entity, comprised of formerly independent contracted offices across the province offering career services.

Dorothy Bennett, one of two certified Career Development Practitioners, the second being Donna Hochman, based in the Nova Scotia Works office in Guysborough said the province’s goal was to create, “a standardized service where any Nova Scotian could walk into a centre and receive the same service from everybody. And that is where the process started.

“Here in Guysborough County we had two centres/organizations; the Antigonish/Guysborough Black Development Association and the CBDC who both offered career services. We joined together into one and we also joined Pictou and Antigonish counties under the Career Connections umbrella and we are now one organization,” explained Bennett, noting that the pooling of resources made for a stronger service overall.

Along with changes in service structure, the new career services centres also made a change in the clientele they serve. “Our clients now are of two different veins,” said Bennett, “before we serviced the job seeker, now we service the job seeker and the employer.”

Kim Avery holds the position of Employment Engagement Specialist in the Nova Scotia Works Guysborough office and explained her role in the organization. “It’s helping the employer with job advertising, job descriptions, employee recruitment; there’s also retention and maintenance...There are wage subsidies that we provide information on to employers.”

While changes have been made to the career services framework, Donna Hochman, former Career Practitioner at the Antigonish/Guysborough Black Development Association in Guysborough and current Career Caseworker at the Guysborough office of Nova Scotia Works said, “I don’t see any change in the level of service. If anything the service has been enhanced. We have more access to resources. Being part of this network with Pictou and Antigonish—there are more services that we can provide which weren’t readily available to us before.”

Career services for the job seeker include skills development, career counselling, resume building, job search, return to work action plans and much more.

Currently the Nova Scotia Works office in Guysborough serves approximately 200 clients. Among them are Janna O’Handley MacKenzie of Canso who agreed to share her Nova Scotia Works journey.

O’Handley MacKenzie came looking to expand her employment opportunities several years ago after working in seasonal employment in the fishery. She was guided through a process of education and business development by the team at Nova Scotia Works and as of May 2017 opened her own salon and spa in Canso.

“They helped me get funding to go back to school, to get educated to open my salon. They helped me with all my paperwork, filing for school, admission to school. They helped direct me to the CBDC to get things started. They were very easy to get along with and very helpful,” said O’Handley MacKenzie.

With three children at home, O’Handley MacKenzie was pleased to be able to make the transition from seasonal employment on the water to self-employment at a location next to her home in Canso. The transformation took over two years and going to school while raising a family wasn’t easy but she had help along the way, “The only reason I could do it was because I had great family support as well,” she said.

In rural communities, success stories are one job, one family at a time. Nova Scotia Works has programs to keep people and businesses in the community and is free and confidential for all clients.

Nova Scotia Works offices are located in Guysborough and Canso with outreach services available in Mulgrave and Sherbrooke. Find them on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/careerconnectionsguysboroughcounty and at the website https://www.careerconnections.ca/guysborough or phone (902) 533-2805.