More Graduates Get Help to Launch Their Careers in Nova Scotia

Government is enhancing the Graduate to Opportunity program to encourage more businesses to hire women, people with disabilities and other diverse graduates.

Employers will now receive an additional 10 per cent subsidy in the first year for diverse and international hires.

Premier Stephen McNeil announced the new bonus to help more young people get jobs at an event today, March 21, in Dartmouth.

“This program has already created meaningful career opportunities for hundreds of talented new graduates,” said Premier McNeil. “Our youth unemployment rate is trending down, and connecting more young people from underrepresented groups will help drive that rate down even further.

“Graduate to Opportunity and other programs like it are part of our strategy to train our youth, keep them home, and support the economic growth of our province.”

The program was launched in 2015 and provides salary contributions to eligible businesses that hire recent graduates. The offset is 25 per cent in the first year and 12.5 per cent in the second.

Now employers who hire a female graduate in a non-traditional occupation, a graduate who self-identifies as a person with a disability, a racially visible person, or an aboriginal person, or an international graduate, are eligible to receive a 35 per cent first-year subsidy.

Roberto Armenta is the chief scientist and director of research and development at Mara Renewables, a biofuel research company in Dartmouth. He’s a champion of diverse hiring.

“We’re working on research and development, and it requires thinking from different angles and tackling complicated problems,” said Mr. Armenta. “Every scientist has a different approach and style. Different cultures bring another angle, and everyone can learn from that. The more diverse our team is, the better.”

Mara Renewables has hired two employees through the Graduate to Opportunity program. Haila Kottwitz, a biologist, started with the company last year. Jessie Gao joined the team earlier this year as a fermentation scientist.

“Mara sees the potential in young, diverse, new graduates like me, and what we can bring to the table,” said Ms. Gao. “I wanted to build my career and life in Nova Scotia, and the Graduate to Opportunity program is helping me do that.”

The program is part of government’s Make It Here initiative, which provides more opportunities for young Nova Scotians. Visit the Make It Here website at