Creating Meaningful Opportunities for Young Talent

“There are opportunities for a higher degree of responsibility here for young people just starting out in their careers, something you may not find in bigger organizations.”
- Robert MacPherson, Scotian Materials Ltd.


Scotian Materials LogoRobert MacPherson, President of Scotian Materials Ltd., knows what it’s like to be a new graduate looking for opportunities in Nova Scotia. “I graduated from university here and have spent the better part of my career fighting to stay in Nova Scotia.” This may be the reason Robert is dedicated to hiring new graduates and co-op students. 

Scotian Materials, a Dartmouth-based company in the sustainable stone industry, was founded in 2014. The company manages quarries from Halifax to Shelburne and supplies foundation products such as crushed rock and aggregate products to local roadbuilders and contractors. Since its inception, the company has hired at least one co-op student each year from urban planning and mining engineering programs at Dalhousie University and University of Waterloo.

“We’ve hired one of our previous students full-time after graduation, and we not only hope to do so again in the future, but it is in our plans for growth to do so.” Currently, Scotian Materials has three employees, including two recent graduates. As well, they had a co-op student earlier in the year.

Project Manager Mark Webb worked as a co-op student with the company last summer. Mark then went back to school to finish his degree in mining engineering at Dalhousie and began working with Scotian Materials full-time in May. “There are opportunities for a higher degree of responsibility here for young people just starting out in their careers, something you may not find in bigger organizations,” says Robert. As Project Manager, Mark’s responsibilities include scheduling, approvals, and planning of contractors. 

“I completed my first two work terms out west, but I missed home. Halifax is a great place to live,” says Mark, who decided to stay in the province for his third and final work term. “My work terms were an optional part of my degree but I completed them because the experience component is invaluable.”

Scotian Materials

"Students come in and ask great questions,” says Robert. “They want to become involved, understand the business, and know their work is contributing to the company in a meaningful way. They ask the questions companies should be asking themselves. They are not afraid to challenge the status quo: why are we doing this? Is there a better way? They suggest ideas and alternative ways of looking at the work we do.” 

Planner Tessa Williams has been working with the company since the end of July, after graduating from the Urban Planning program at Dalhousie. As a new graduate, she knew she wanted to work in Nova Scotia. “My family is here, and this is where I’ve built my connections. Local knowledge is a huge asset in planning, and it’s a strength I would lose if I went somewhere else,” she says. “This is an exciting time for Halifax and Nova Scotia with the growth we’re experiencing. I’m happy to be working in my field and helping to shape the city I grew up in and love.”

“We have to keep young people in Nova Scotia to maintain a sustainable economy,” says Robert. “There are a lot of opportunities here, but if we are going to continue to grow and realize our potential as a province we need to keep our talented youth here where they can contribute. To do this, companies like ours need to meet the challenge of creating these opportunities. It’s enticing for young people to want to move on, but Nova Scotia is a really great place to live and work.”


Hiring youth and providing experiential learning opportunities such as co-ops are two pillars of the Halifax Partnership’s Game Changers Youth Retention Action Plan, an initiative that aims to retain youth aged 20-29 in Nova Scotia. For more information on Game Changers, click here.