My speech on jobs for apprentices and new grads

October 22, 2014

Fore more information, read the press release on this NDP Legislation here.

Bill No. 39 – New Graduates and Apprentices Retention Act.

I appreciate the comments from all members, especially from the member for Halifax Atlantic. It is interesting that he started off with a quote from Jonathan Williams from StudentsNS around the interest relief off of the student loans, which is good, it’s a great initiative, but what he fails to continue on with is some of the other quotes from Mr. Williams who has criticized him and been very vocal about the government’s cancellation of GRR and not reinvesting that nearly $50 million program.

I believe the interest free program is about $14 million so they have been very vocal and trying to encourage the government to come to their senses and reinvest that money. The GRR, for example, put $15,000 back into the pockets of newly-graduated students here in the province. With this bill, I just thought I had to make that known, since he brought up Mr. Williams. I think Bill No. 39 is an important piece of legislation that should garner support from all sides. It’s a piece of legislation that will support our young, recently graduated students, men and women, the apprenticeship who are working in our province.

Over the last year or so, Madam Speaker, one of the more interesting things I’ve seen around my engagement with young people who are deciding what career to go into is those who are going toward the Nova Scotia Community College and the trades, and seeing more and more of those students who are women who are entering that trade, and it’s great to see that.

In my former career as a paramedic, when I started in the early 1990s, we were just starting to see an influx of more women choosing to become paramedics. I know that the majority of those students now tend to be women. I think we are starting to see that throughout different areas.

With the apprentice program we have here in Nova Scotia, I think it’s important that if we are asking our private sector to step up to the plate, as my colleague mentioned earlier, to ensure that there’s opportunities for young people to work and have the opportunity to go through the apprentice program here in Nova Scotia, I think it should be compelled upon ourselves to ask government to do the same.

I know a lot of work has been ongoing over the last three or four years to get to the point where we now have the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency, Madam Speaker. I want to commend the former minister and the government for continuing on with that program, ensuring that our young people have every opportunity to stay here. I can tell you that if a young person needs those hours in on the job and can’t find that placement here, they’re going to go elsewhere.

We’ve seen it over and over, the number of Nova Scotians leaving our province to work out West, that if we see young students leaving, you are more likely to not see them come back for many years. Of course, with the debt they’re incurring for going to school – but if you’re getting on-the-job training and the apprentice program, most of the time if not all of the time, the employers who hire those young apprentices are the ones who have done placement with that company.

I know, for example, through my practicum as a paramedic, part of my schooling – we had two practicums that we had to go on with different employers in the province, and it was one of those at the time – there were 51 or 52 different private operators of ambulance services and it was one of the ones that I did my practicum at that hired me. They know who you are, they know your work ethic, and I think it’s important to have those opportunities. (Interruptions) No heckling from my own side, now.

With Bill No. 39, I think it’s something the government could look at to continue on to show the support of our recently graduated young people, our apprentices here in Nova Scotia. I think it can work with the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency to finalize what the makeup of the support could be from the province.

As was stated earlier by the former minister, my colleague, when he was in the position he was astonished with the sheer number of apprenticeships in the province – hardly any, if any. With the work we do as a province, as departments, especially through TIR and the projects that they undertake, it is a great opportunity to supply and support positions for apprentices here in Nova Scotia, Madam Speaker.

I hope the government recognizes that this is something that we feel is extremely important to continue to support. I hope we will see in the future Bill No. 39 either approved or a version of it under the government support be passed through this Legislature so that we can truly show our young people that we support them as they enter the workforce.