Young talent helps business thrive during COVID-19

Young talent helps business thrive during COVID-19

< Back to Articles | Topics: Trends


Margaret Schwartz
Department of Labour and Advanced Education
Strategic Youth Initiatives Outreach Coordinator

As Nova Scotia’s economy starts to open up, businesses large and small, are figuring out how they’re going to operate in a world impacted by COVID-19.

Some are rebuilding their workforce after being forced to lay off staff, and many are adapting to new ways of reaching clients and delivering services.

Halifax-based organization, Strongest Families Institute (SFI), provides evidence-based mental health services to children and families everywhere, and are tapping into new skillsets as remote work and building connections become more important than ever.

“Our team has quickly adapted our offerings so we can provide more flexible mental health supports to families in need during the pandemic,” says Dr. Patricia Lingley-Pottie, CEO and President of SFI. “And much of this revolutionary work is championed by the young talent we hire.”

SFI has created about 80 jobs in the last seven years, a number of them filled by recent grads.

“Our grads are contributing to cutting-edge work,” says Dr. Pottie. “Including the development of digital avatars and virtual coaching applications that can communicate skill reminders to clients. These grads come to us with strong programming and communication skills that put us on the leading edge of innovation.”

Due to the demand of their services, SFI recently hired four more graduates, which was made easier with the Graduate to Opportunity (GTO) program. GTO offers 25 per cent of a grad’s first year salary – 35 per cent if the grad is diverse – and 12.5 per cent of their second-year salary.

GTO is available to small businesses, start-ups and non-profit organizations. Complete applications are typically approved within three to five days.

“We are a very young organization and GTO has helped us grow our workforce, stay on budget and tap into young talent,” says Dr. Pottie. “And as a result, the contributions of our grads play a key factor in our continued growth.”

Mental Health Coach and recent King’s College graduate, Breanne Wilson, is quickly customizing her coaching arrangements with families who are facing more stressors than ever before.

“Some of the parents I support may have lost a close friend or family member. Others are struggling with the loss of employment,” says Wilson.

“This makes it so important that we tailor our services to meet their current needs. As a young team we are comfortable adapting to change and offering new ideas to help solve difficult problems.”

SFI recently partnered with Bell Lets Talk to take their virtual programming to the living rooms of those in rural communities as far as the North West Territories. A national contract with Military Family Services Ottawa allows SFI to support military and veteran families across Canada as well as those posted internationally.

“Our hires are reaching those in need across the world,” says Dr. Pottie. “As an employer we see the value in succession planning and the competitive opportunities that come with hiring young minds out of school. For us, GTO helped make this possible.”

When you are ready to hire someone new, consider hiring a recent grad.

To date, more than 600 organizations like Strongest Families Institute have hired more than 1,000 recent graduates across Nova Scotia using GTO funding.

Graduate to Opportunity could save you money on the next person you hire. Learn more at

< Back to Articles | Topics: Trends

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