NSCC: Bridging the gap between school and on-the-job skills

Thousands of new graduates complete their studies in Halifax each spring and fall, walking away with degrees and excellent theoretical knowledge, but they don’t always have the on-the-job skills that are needed. Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) is working to bridge this gap.

“Industry came to us saying that it was difficult to find someone ready to work immediately,” says Ward Cartier, Lead Faculty, Ocean Technology Advanced Diploma Program at NSCC. “They would get bright graduates out of school, but then need to spend two years training them on the technical skills needed to actually do their job in the field.”

Oceans Technology is a one-year transitional program tailored for students who already have a background in engineering or science, but are looking to gain training on how to use it in a technical and marine setting.

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“The Oceans Technology program trains these graduates just as industry spent time doing in the past,” says Cartier. “Graduates from our program are ready to work immediately and have the technical skills to jump right in.”

This program was born out of conversations with industry. NSCC consulted the industry to determine the skill sets they were looking for and tailored their course material to teach these new graduates what they need to start working immediately.

“The oceans tech sector is quite unique. There are no programs to directly train people for what they need to be able to do in the workplace,” says Cartier. “This is why students come; they already have degrees, but they’re looking for jobs, and good ones.”

Working to prepare students for the technical demands of jobs in the oceans sector, the Oceans Technology program offers weekly industry visits, work terms and hands-on workshops.

Callum Mireault was one of the first graduates of the program last year. He had graduated from Dalhousie University with a degree in marine biology.

“It’s great exposure to companies,” says Mireault. “It gives you both an intro to the technical skills, but it also helps you focus on areas you want to grow.”

“I was able to see many different fields that I wouldn’t have known existed if it wasn’t for the program,” says Mireault.

After the first year of the program, all of the students were placed in internships and a majority of the students plan to return to Nova Scotia to grow their careers.

Nova Scotia’s oceans sector is growing quickly, generating approximately $4.5 billion in GDP. Halifax also home to more than 480 PhDs in oceans-related disciplines and over 200 companies doing business in the oceans sector.

This industry is primed to grow and NSCC is helping new graduates prepare for the industry's demand as Halifax continues to attract more oceans-related business and research. 

“To grow this sector, we need people,” says Cartier.

For more information on the Oceans Technology program and how your company can get involved, visit www.nscc.ca