The popular program will continue to work closely with a new group of graduating students from various backgrounds to help them settle in Nova Scotia through comprehensive career transition training and support.
What is Stay Nova Scotia?
The program was conceptualized following a study commissioned to evaluate the economic future of Nova Scotia. The results of the study indicated that the province is facing a demographic challenge due to an aging population and a decline in the birth rate. A recommendation from the report was to increase the retention of international students in the province after graduation.
The program is run by EduNova, a membership-driven organization that represents all sectors of education and promotes Nova Scotia’s expertise in education on the international market. EduNova members include 10 universities, community colleges, and private language institutions in the province.
“Roughly two to three percent of international students were choosing to stay in Nova Scotia. The recommendation from the report was to increase the number of international students staying in Nova Scotia to approximately 10 percent,” said Micheal Hennigar, Director of Recruitment and Marketing at EduNova, in an exclusive interview with Canada Study News.
“We identified a group of 50 final-year students who we put through to a one-year training program with the hopes of connecting them to the labour market in Nova Scotia. This is done by giving them the networking skills and pairing them with a mentor to address the skills gap they may have when it comes to searching and working in the province. The goal of the program was to retain 80 percent of that cohort of 50 for one year after graduation, and ideally have them working in jobs related to their field of study.
The one year will also give them opportunity to apply for a permanent resident status after they have completed that period of employment with the hope that they will stay in the province even after that one year when they receive their permanent residence status,” added Mr Hennigar.
Concurrently to SNS, EduNova ran a ‘Study and Stay in Nova Scotia’ project, in which EduNova. along with its university and college members, recruited a different group of 50 students from target markets, including The Philippines, China, and India. For this project, students are engaged at the beginning of their study plan and given support and enhanced career training for up to four years.
Currently, 28 of the 50 students in the SNS program who graduated in 2017 have signed full-time work contracts, and the remainder are either continuing their study plan or are in the process of job searching. According to Mr Hennigar, applications for the SNS program will be open in the end of August, and the graduating students will be chosen by the middle of September. The programming will start the first week of October.
What is role of employers in the Stay in Nova Scotia program?
Employers are being engaged in the program in different ways, the most important of which is to act as a mentor. The student is expected to meet with his or her mentor at least six times throughout the duration of the program.
Mentorship has been an avenue to connect graduating students in the program with work opportunities. Two students who have had a successful experience with mentorship are Wenfei Jin (Victoria) and Wendi Zhao.
Wendi Zhao is a new Commerce graduate who majored in Finance at Dalhousie University. She is originally from Dalian, China, a lovely coastal city like Halifax. Wendi came to Halifax for university three years ago, and continues to grow affection for this friendly and welcoming city. She considers Halifax her second hometown, and hopes to stay in Nova Scotia and start her career in finance. Participation in the SNS program has contributed to her recent employment and career in Nova Scotia.
Wendi writes, “When I originally met with my mentor, it was a great experience. I just want to say thank you to the EduNova team. My mentor is a business developer Director in Royal Bank of Canada, and has connections with many businesses. He told me about his past working experiences, and how he secured a job. He offered help to review my resume and provide guidance and introductions to businesses. It was a great experience. Thank you so much for this connection.”
Six months after Wendi’s initial meeting with her mentor, she found employment and re-stated her gratitude: “Thank you [EduNova] and [Venor] for the continuous support you gave all of us. I’ve received a graduate job offer from Citco, a company that I always hoped to work for as a starting point! My mentor has always been helping me with everything: resume, interview, contract, and I am grateful to be a part of this program. (profile provided by EduNova)
Three years ago Wenfei Jin (Victoria) moved to Sydney from Yili, Xinjiang province of China. Victoria Jin recently completed her MBA at Cape Breton University, Nova Scotia. Taking an entrepreneurial route and putting her MBA in action, Victoria co-opened ‘Sweet & Tears Teahouse and Dessert’ in Halifax. The name, inspired by Winston Churchill’s “blood, tears, toil and sweat”, evokes persistence and entrepreneurial drive. Through the SNS program, Victoria was matched with a professional mentor who is the Regional Marketing Manager (Atlantic) at Deloitte Canada.
Victoria, who handles all marketing for her startup business, describes her mentor as “a talented wise woman [with a] gregarious, nurturing personality . . . in other words, exactly what I need since I am new graduate and certainly could use some guidance.” Victoria believes that “the knowledge and wisdom of [her] mentor has been a great help and support throughout [her] career transition, and [her] mentor has become an excellent friend, teacher and great inspiration.” Victoria says the support she’s received will “forever remain a major contributor behind my success and achievements as I really look forward to the day I can do the same for someone else.” This example demonstrates positive impact of the SNS program, likened to strong, collaborative partnerships, and strategic mentorships that help international students to succeed. (profile provided by EduNova)
Many of the students are finding work in their field of study. In most cases we had students studying in programs related to entrepreneurship, business and finance. We find many students finding roles in financial services, and we have a couple of students who have started their own business and are involved in startup companies. Another student opened a restaurant and is still searching for a full-time job in addition to that. We have students working the tech sector, so in most cases graduates are working in their field of study or something very closely related to what they studied.
Interestingly, we have a workplace voucher which offers some funding for employers to offset the cost of employing the student. We have only been taken up on that in a very small number of cases. Employers are seeing in these students people who are going to fill a gap in their business where they need to hire qualified employers. They are finding these students as enthusiastic, well-trained, well-qualified students who will do a good job and some cases help them grow their business by connecting with markets overseas,” Mr Hennigar said.
Nova Scotia is a not as common a study destination for international students as larger provinces such as Ontario, British Columbia, or Quebec. In 2016, three percent of study permits issued were for students destined for Nova Scotia, whilst nearly 85 percent of study permits were for students heading to Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec.
For Mr Hennigar, the lower number of international students in Nova Scotia can be considered an advantage for those who decide to study in the province. Nova Scotia is home to 10 degree-granting universities.
“Students coming from abroad are a little bit special in a way. There may be more opportunities for them given that they are not competing with a lot of people who have similar backgrounds. For international students, Nova Scotia is a really great place where you can come and have an authentic Canadian experience. It is not a place where students will come and get swallowed up into large communities similar to those they might come from in their home countries.
“It becomes necessary to interact with locals in the community, and students will find that their friend groups and contacts would be very diverse in Nova Scotia.”
The new cohort of 50 students to be recruited for SNS this fall will gain access to employment-related events, activities, workshops, and personalized career mentorship as they transition from graduating students to entry-level professionals.
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