Nova Scotia Works showcases career pathways through open houses

GUYSBOROUGH – Nova Scotia Works Guysborough County, a non-profit organization that provides employment services through funding from Employment Nova Scotia, is holding open house information sessions this summer on various career training opportunities at their office in Guysborough.

Doug Allen, an advanced care paramedic and paramedic recruiter for EHS Operations in Nova Scotia, was on site on July 20 to give an overview of careers in the EHS system and the educational pathways that can get job seekers in the door.

Allen, a paramedic with 24 years of experience, said this career is a great pathway to entry into healthcare and, “We get out there and help people. It’s a very fulfilling job…I’ve done some really amazing things in my career.”

Asked about the traits a person should have when considering a paramedic career, he said, “A good sense of humour is definitely a plus for this job; a good working knowledge of science – biology, chemistry that sort of stuff helps…You do have to have that desire to get out and help people.”

Primary care paramedic training, a 50-week program through Medavie HeathEd in Nova Scotia, requires academic Math – Grade 11 or 12, academic English – Grade 11 or 12 and one academic science – chemistry, biology or physics. But for those coming to the program as a second or third career, Allen said it’s best to contact the training schools directly, as they do have mature student programs and can direct, when necessary, potential students to upgrading programs.

When recruiting, Allen said the question many people ask is: Is it scary?

“When we get something that’s kind of stressful, we just remember that we are there with a job to do and that we are the ones that are trained to deal with this stuff. And we find that, when you are trained on how to handle something, it’s not nearly as scary, especially when you have a job to do,” said Allen.

He added that there are additional supports and debriefing to help paramedics cope with difficult situations.

“There used to be that butch mentality like ‘suck it up buttercup’ but we don’t do that anymore. Those days are long gone,” Allen told The Journal.

Paramedic rates of pay, depending on qualifications and years of experience, range from $26 to $38 an hour. With the demand for paramedics in Nova Scotia, employment in the field is almost guaranteed. At this time, the province is offering a tuition rebate that amounts to half the cost of the program, $11,500, for Nova Scotia residents and for others who agree to work in the province for three years following the successful completion of paramedic training.

Kim Avery, team lead and employer engagement specialist for Nova Scotia Works Guysborough County spoke to The Journal about the recent spate of open house events and what the organization hopes to achieve by offering them.

“We’re trying to do things outside the box and bring in other providers that maybe have some training opportunities or opportunities for employment in their sector; to bring them to the community.

“We brought in NSCC (Nova Scotia Community College) last week for example, so they could walk through their presentation and show people how to navigate their website and look at all the different programs and schools and how they would go through the application process,” said Avery.

This Wednesday, July 26, the organization will have an information session on student loans starting at 2 p.m.

Avery said, “If somebody doesn’t qualify for our funding then they’ll ask, ‘Can I apply for student loan?’ They’ll need some guidance…if we create the opportunity for people to come in and ask those questions then they [a Student Loan Officer with the Nova Scotia Department of Advanced Education] can better answer them than we can because that’s not a program that we offer.”

Along with offering information sessions, the organization is moving forward with a school liaison officer position this fall to collaborate with schools in the Antigonish / Guysborough area.

“They’re [school liaison officers] there to support students with labour market information…and maybe support for outside services…a complement to what is already in the schools,” explained Avery.

To keep up to date with events and services at the Nova Scotia Works Guysborough County office follow them on Facebook or call (902) 533-2805.

Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal