The right size

The right size

< Back to Articles | Topics: Skilled workforce

Contributors:

Joey Fitzpatrick

Having the right people with the right skill sets is critical in any business. For a technology startup in the ever-evolving world of insurance products, human resources can be a company’s most valuable asset.

“The availability of highly skilled and educated employees is the very reason we chose to build our team in Halifax,” says Rhonda Rodenbaugh, Vice-President of People and Administration with REIN.

With 20 employees in Halifax, REIN solves the complexities of building insurance products in digital ecosystems. In a time of evolving risks, changing customer behavior and unprecedented demand for data-driven and usage-based insurance solutions, REIN’s configurable platform empowers insurers and ecosystems to deliver personalized coverage options to consumers where they are, when they need it.

In addition to the region’s skilled workforce, the company was also able to take advantage of a Nova Scotia government program called Graduate to Opportunity (GTO), which provides incentives for employers to hire recent graduates. The program will pay 25 per cent of the graduate/employee’s salary in the first year. That number becomes 35 per cent if the employee is from a designated diversity group — Aboriginal, African Nova Scotian, female in a non-traditional occupation, an international student or a person with a disability. In the second year the program covers 12.5 per cent of the employee’s salary.

“Stretching the salary dollars allowed us to hire two engineers instead of one and at the same time it allowed us to be intentional in building a team with a more diverse skill set,” Rodenbaugh adds. In April REIN was able to hire two employees, Prajwal Pinto and Rowen Monteiro, who had gone through graduate school at Dalhousie University Faculty of Engineering together.

“They knew each other well before they came to REIN, which gave them the confidence to bounce ideas off each other. Additionally, the shared knowledge they had helped them with problem solving in our organization.”

Graduate to Opportunity is open to any business in Nova Scotia that has 100 employees or less. The program is also open to not-for-profits or charities of any size. Jobs have to be new, permanent and full time and pay at least $30,000 per year to be eligible and the employee must both live and work in Nova Scotia. The recent grad must have graduated within one year of the application. The turnaround time for complete applications is typically five business days.

Besides the benefits to employers, GTO allows recent graduates to kick start their careers in Nova Scotia. Pinto was hired just two days after graduating from Dalhousie as a software engineer, developing new features, fixing existing bugs and assisting with technical issues. As his first job in Canada, the position at REIN provides Pinto with an opportunity to use the full skill set he has acquired at Dalhousie.

“I have gained expertise in web development and API development,” Pinto says. “My team at REIN has been extremely supportive and motivational when I wanted to take on new challenges. I was given opportunities on large projects even though I was quite new. The whole experience has helped me gain confidence in what I do and expand my problem-solving skills.”

As a software developer specializing in Javascript, Monteiro says his work with REIN has given him the scope to grow within the IT industry.

“REIN has provided me with lots of opportunities to grow through different projects,” Monteiro says.

Since its launch in February, 2015 GTO has approved positions in virtually all sectors and industries including jobs like engineers, veterinarians, graphic designers, computer programmers, pharmacists and administrative assistants.

“Being able to bring in more talented individuals to join our team has resulted in an improvement in the way we view our opportunities and challenges as a company,” Rodenbaugh adds. “It has also contributed to improving our company diversity and culture.”

With Nova Scotia’s aging population and large numbers of people retiring from the workforce, succession planning is becoming a major issue across all sectors of the economy. GTO is designed to help attract and retain the next generation of skilled and professional workers, by giving recent graduates the opportunity to build a life and career in Halifax. Pinto can envision a future for himself with REIN.

“The company is growing quickly and that motivates me to take on new and exciting work,” Pinto says. “It has that ‘casual yet corporate’ feel you only see in start-ups, with fun and talented people.”

Based on his experience thus far with REIN, Monteiro can also envision a future for himself in Halifax.

“Halifax has been always my favourite, with such welcoming and amazing people,” he says. “It has really given me a base for my future.”

In addition to the salary incentive, GTO offers employers many tangible benefits, including the numerous positive attributes that recent graduates bring to their jobs. Being able to bring additional talented young people on board has allowed the company to expand its horizons, Rodenbaugh adds.

“More often than not, we find ourselves with more projects or ideas than resources to pursue them,” she says. “Having an extra skilled engineer allowed us to be more flexible and strategic in exploring these opportunities.”

REIN intends to continue to leverage the program whenever possible, she adds.

“In our competitive space, finding great value for our financial investment in the way of engineering talent is essential to us being able to continue to grow and succeed.” ν

< Back to Articles | Topics: Skilled workforce

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