Helping Prepare Mid-Career Workers for New Opportunities

Future Skills Centre – Centre des Compétences futures announced a $7.65 million investment July 9 for 10 new innovation projects that will help identify the best training opportunities for mid-career workers. Trucking Human Resource Sector Council Atlantic, PEI Trucking Sector Council, Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada, Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, Immigrant Settlement Agency of NS, Native Council of Nova Scotia and St. Francis Xavier University’s Centre for Employment Innovation will be partnering on “Building the Skills of the Trucking Industry” an investment of $693,420 on a two-year project. Building Skills will offer innovative teaching tools to a minimum of 150 professional drivers in Atlantic Canada, with a goal of testing how to support the retention of the existing workforce and the recruitment of new workers to the sector. Read the full release here. Learn about Building the Skills project here.

CEI and Conference Board of Canada to host Future Skills Centre Regional Sounding

Your voice is important.

On behalf of the Future Skills Centre – Centre des Compétences futures (FSC-CCF), the Centre for Employment Innovation at St. Francis Xavier University and the Conference Board of Canada have partnered to facilitate a stop on the Regional Soundings Tour, which will take place at the Halifax Convention Centre on November 22, 2019. This event aims to bring together Nova Scotians who are engaged or interested in the province’s skills and training community.

Sessions will begin with a brief introduction to the Future Skills Centre’s mandate and objectives, with updates on its operations and activities. Next, the session will focus on facilitating small group conversations with Nova Scotians to discuss their thoughts and ideas about how the Future Skills Centre can best support the province today for workforce opportunities of the future.

We want to hear your perspective on how the Future Skills Centre can best meet the diverse future skills needs and structure their operations accordingly to ensure responsiveness to Nova Scotia’s priorities. Your contributions will be used to help inform the Future Skills Centre’s research and innovation investment strategies.

The Future Skills Centre tests and rigorously measures innovative approaches to identify emerging in-demand skills across the country, with the aim of helping Canadians develop the skills they need to take full advantage of and succeed in the changing workforce.

The event is free, but space is limited. Please register to secure your spot at

Not in Nova Scotia, but want to be part of the conversation? The Future Skills Centre Regional Soundings Tour will be holding events in all provinces and territories. For more information contact Heather McIntosh, Senior Manager, Knowledge Mobilization and Research (

To stay up-to-date on Future Skills Centre activities and news, subscribe to their mailing list here.

Exploring Our Collective Impact

The Nova Scotia Career Development Association (NSCDA) held its annual conference June 5 to 7 at the Hilton Doubletree in Dartmouth, NS. The “Big Picture” brought together hundreds of members and professionals within the NS career development community to network, discuss issues, and explore ideas. NSCDA members, such as the Nova Scotia Works Centres, assist people with various career development activities, and the St. Francis Xavier Centre for Employment Innovations (CEI) works with these members to provide support to help them deliver their services. Learn more about Nova Scotia Works here.

The CEI sponsored the NSCDA closing keynote speaker, Maggie MacDonnell, and the team also contributed by delivering workshops and a pre-conference event, an all-day workshop on “Exploring our collective impact within the career development ecosystem.” The workshop’s learning, conversation, and activities centred on taking an asset based approach to tackling big issues in employment and career development. Starting with an individual focus, then spreading into and organization and community focus, the workshop explored tools and methods used to create positive change and strengthen a culture of innovation.

CEI’s Jaime Smith, Angela Bear, and Dr. Paula Romanow facilitated the workshop, along with visual artist and founder of Brave Space, Mo Drescher. Mo created a visual, capturing the learnings and highlighting key actions and next steps. The CEI would like to thank the following panel participants who contributed their expertise to the pre-conference event: Sehkahanee Reynolds (Valley African Nova Scotian Development Association), Michelle Poirier (Phoenix Youth Programs), Mohja Alia (Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia), and Paula Robinson (Native Council of Nova Scotia)

During the conference, people had the choice of attending several smaller presentations. The CEI’s Paula Romanow, with the help of CEI research interns Brenda Gatera, Jessie Doyle, Aleesha Quinn, Alyssa Mansfield, and Catherine Kennedy, presented on “Youth Initiatives in Career Development: Learnings and Insights.” The CEI has been working with several employment services and community economic development partners across the province to understand better the potential impact of youth engagement in career development and employment innovation. The team presented research about exemplary practices and emerging models in youth mentorship and employability skills programming during the session. The interns shared their views on the importance of thinking differently about careers, development, and life-long, life-wide learning.

The final morning of the conference featured world-renowned educator and program developer Maggie MacDonnell. Maggie gave an in-depth look at the work she has been doing as a teacher in Salluit, Nunavik. She implemented innovative educational programs to create resiliency in youth in a community where the burden of colonization and inter-generational trauma had led to high dropout rates and a youth suicide crisis. Maggie shared examples of how she has empowered youth in the community through initiatives such as creating a youth-run bike repair shop, organizing the construction of a fitness center, starting a youth running club, and forming a girls’ adventure club. The outcomes of her work in Salluit have led to reduced suicide rates and school perseverance. Through the programs, her students were also able to start to reconnect with their Inuit culture and heritage.

Maggie’s work is a great example of how one person can effect change and engage youth in a community. Her passionate and emotional presentation was a fantastic and moving reminder of how much teachers matter in creating positive outcomes for youth. For her work, Global Teacher Prize recognized Maggie as the winner of $1,000,000 (US), and she is most deserving of the nickname, “The Million Dollar Teacher.” Maggie is a StFX Human Kinetics graduate and Coady International Institute alumnus, and the CEI team in attendance had the opportunity to meet with her afterwards for a quick chat and a picture flashing their X-Rings. Learn more about Maggie’s Qayak project here.

Unleashing Potential at How We Thrive

By Ben Herringer

The How We Thrive gathering (June 2-5 at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax) brought change-makers and leaders from across Nova Scotia together to connect, share, and discuss ways to develop systems and communities that allow people to thrive. There were opportunities for learning, conversation, and relationship building over the three days. Each person attending chose a learning stream, which they attended for three hours each morning. Each learning stream centered on a different theme, and facilitators guided the participants through discussions and activities to help them explore that theme.

I attended How We Thrive with three other members of the Centre for Employment Innovation team, and our role was to co-facilitate a learning stream called Unleashing Potential along with Michael Flood, the Director of the Quality of Life Initiative at Engage Nova Scotia. The first day of our learning stream focused on examining individual impact and potential, and involved a lot of self-reflection as well as asset mapping. This laid the foundation for the activities of the next two days. On the second day, the focus shifted to finding your “why” or purpose in life and work, and how you can use that to align your efforts and those of your team to make more of an impact. We also looked at some barriers that each of us face in unleashing our potential, and demonstrated the power of having a positive perspective in approaching challenges. The third day was all about collaboration, and how we can help each other to reach our potential. People identified challenges in their life and work, and others provided advice and shared resources that may be useful in addressing them during group discussions. I had no previous experience in facilitation, so this process was a great learning opportunity. The biggest challenge for me was adapting the sessions that we had carefully planned in the weeks leading up to How We Thrive. This was necessary to adjust for time or to pursue spontaneous conversations that were meaningful to the group, and required us to change our plans for each day to ensure we could still provide the outcomes. I had a hard time with this at first because I like to be organized, follow plans, and feel prepared. Over the three days facilitating, I became more comfortable with this degree of uncertainty, and I realized that it is often part of the process of facilitation. It is an important skill to be able to work in this type of environment, see the big picture, and still deliver the main ideas of the session. As a team, I believe we created a worthwhile experience for the participants, and gave them tangible tools to help them unleash their potential. We ended up receiving lots of positive feedback from participants, which was very rewarding. Based upon this positive first experience, I will be open to future opportunities in facilitation.

The experience of How We Thrive as a whole was very unique. I encountered diverse people, new knowledge, and uncomfortable situations that challenged me and changed my perspective. I found that my mindset became a lot more positive as the gathering continued, and I think this was due to the creation of an inclusive environment. People were welcomed to share their views and contribute, and as a result, I began to feel more comfortable participating. Although some people engaged in some difficult, deep, and emotional conversations throughout the gathering, at the end it seemed most people felt hopeful about our collective future, and were ready and motivated to use what they learned to help their communities thrive.

Research Work Supports Nova Scotia Initiatives

The Centre for Employment Innovation continues to conduct research on several employment initiatives and the impact they have, or may have, on lives of Nova Scotians.

Flexible Labour Pool Pilot Project

A Flexible Labour Pool (FLP) is an innovative model of employment where instead of holding traditional full-time positions at a single organization, workers have the ability to access employment from multiple organizations on a flexible basis. The FLP is based on an employer’s need for workers, and community members’ need for income. An employer’s needs may increase during certain seasons, while some community members may have circumstances (a disability, commitment to school, parental responsibilities, transportation difficulties, etc…) that make it difficult to find employment that fits their unique needs. In these cases, a FLP is useful to help employers and employees work to their full capacity.

CEI research intern Jessie Doyle is leading a market feasibility study for establishing a FLP in the Antigonish community. Jessie is collaborating with many stakeholders including  Career Connections – Nova Scotia Works, social enterprise Placemaking 4G, Common Good Solutions, the Department of Labour and Advanced Education, the Antigonish Chamber of Commerce, municipal councilors and several employers and organizations in the Antigonish community.

Focus groups with various community members will help determine whether there is a workforce willing to participate in a FLP, and will ensure that the FLP is person-centered and guided by the voices in the community – including persons who may have been traditionally underrepresented in the workforce. Local media has been interested in the project including a radio interview with Jessie and stakeholder Lenita Hanson of Tony’s Meats.