More Nova Scotians are getting valuable on-the-job experience, helping them get good jobs here at home, through the province’s START program. The province announced today, Aug. 7, plans to expand the program, which encourages businesses to hire and provide work experience to Nova Scotians. Beginning next year, the province will increase funding to support recent graduates to get experience they need to launch careers here. “Nova Scotia has thousands of new graduates ready to start work in their field of study, but for many of them, the first hurdle is gaining some experience and getting a foot in the door,” Labour and Advanced Education Minister Frank Corbett said at Playschool Day Care in New Waterford. START has connected 557 young people, recent graduates, apprentices and unemployed Nova Scotians with work experience. As of June, 92 per cent of those are expected to become long-term jobs for the new employees. “Through the START program, we are helping more Nova Scotians gain that experience so they can find good jobs and put down roots in their communities,” said Mr. Corbett. “We’re making it easier for families to build the life they want right here at home.” START was introduced as a pilot program in October. “As a result of the START program, I’ve found a great place to gain work experience in my field of choice,” said Alexis White. “The training I’ve received as a cook at Playschool Day Care will no doubt set me up for my future.” Ms. White’s employer also benefits. “The province’s START program has been a huge help for our non-profit day care. It’s a win-win situation providing us with the support to hire staff, while offering excellent job experience to some of our employees,” said Janet Campbell, director of Playschool Day Care in New Waterford. “Through this funding, we were able to hire and train Alexis as a cook. She’s proven to be dependable, competent and is eager to learn.” More than 382 employers have taken part in START, which helps cover costs such as training and wages for new employees. The province is increasing the funding by $500,000 per year for a total of $1.5 million over the next three years. “Participating in the co-op and START programs helped me secure the job I have and love today,” said Katelyn MacDonald, marketing and events co-ordinator for the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce. “With the opportunity to connect with employers here in my community, I was able to find a great job at home.” To find out more, or apply, visit http://careers.novascotia.ca.