Rebekah Skeete always believed once the YMCA of Greater Halifax became a Nova Scotia Works Employment Services Centre, the organization would be able to help people throughout the region gain meaningful employment.

After a successful rebranding, which took place a little more than a year ago when the YMCA was granted the contract to deliver the Nova Scotia Works Program in Halifax and Dartmouth, the organization expanded from the Community YMCA on Gottingen Street and Wyse Road in Dartmouth, to a total of eight locations with the additions of Cole Harbour, Eastern Passage, Main Street Dartmouth, Porter’s Lake, Middle Musquodoboit and Sheer Harbour.

Rebekah, who is the Director of the YMCA Nova Scotia Work Centres, said the organization is now part of a larger provincial network offering consistent employment services from Yarmouth to Cape Breton.

“Anywhere you see the NS Works logo, clients can expect multi-faceted and targeted programs for job seekers and employers that are the same across the province,” she said. “It is an inclusive support, so in the past there may have been different organizations dealing with persons with disabilities, African Nova Scotians or French services, for example, now they can get the help they need at one location.”

The YMCA’s Nova Scotia Works Centres offer a variety of programs, including but not limited to workshops, case management services, computer skills classes, help with cover letters and resumes, client assessments that lead to meeting with career practitioners who provide focused assistance to job seekers after they complete a psychometric assessment to determine their aptitudes. The Centres also employ job developers who work with clients to market them to employers, and we help foster that relationship between the client and the employer.

“Employment engagement specialists work directly with employers to determine their hiring and retention need,” she added. “We have a program called Competency-Based Job Descriptions where we facilitate employers and take them right through the process of how to develop comprehensive job descriptions and how they can use them to measure job performance. The specialists will conduct a needs assessment with the employer and they’ll work with that employer to get them the right person for the right job.”

Rebekah said she has no doubt the Centres are providing a vauluable service. She added she believes the Centres are attracting large numbers of clients because the services reflect the new ways both job seekers and employers will need to approach the province’s growing labor shortages going forward.

“Unemployment rates are still fairly high, and we’re running into a labour shortage,” Rebekah explained. “When you factor in outmigration, lower birth rates and an aging population, employers have to do things a little bit differently or else they’re not going to be able to survive. We are helping them look differently at how they hire employees and what they look for. They need to be able to find the right person for the right job, and we have to work with the clients to make sure they have the skills to secure employment and maintain it over the long-term. That is an interesting challenge because some of the clients who are seeking work now are mutli-barriered. Maybe it wasn’t always that way, but things have changed. Perhaps they have been out of the workforce raising a family and are missing computer skills, or have never been on a job interview before. Or they possess the skills for a job, but perhaps an employer might not consider them because they don’t have formal training. That’s where competency-based job descriptions come into play. It’s a multi-faceted issue.”

Rebekah said the complexities involved in matching job seeking clients with potential employers are challenging, but ultimately quite rewarding.

“It can take a lot of courage to walk through the door,” she said. “It’s really important to be welcoming and understanding and work with people wherever they are at their starting place. But when they’ve experienced success and they come back and share their stories, it’s wonderful. We relate with them and we’re genuinely happy we were able to help.”