I did an interview yesterday for the March 4th "In Conversation With..." column that shocked me.
I don't want to give too much away but I will tell you this: There are plenty of job -- no, not job but career opportunities for Nova Scotia's young people if only they were shown all the possibilities.
If only they didn't buy into the comfortable, safe idea that they can't leave home. Ever. Not even to learn a trade, not even to bring a trade back home.
This young man I spoke with works on ships. Not building them but sailing them. He works the Great Lakes (as opposed to deep-sea shipping) and on average, each of these freighters employs 18 people. He told me he can live anywhere he likes with this job; as in, he can live in Nova Scotia.
"I work more weeks at a time but I have more time off," he said, comparing his job with the ones out west. Because he can't work in the winter (lakes are frozen), his company sends its employees for training.
And his work can lead to other interesting jobs in the shipping industry.
Yet he didn't hear about this career from a high school guidance counsellor or from his parents. He didn't know someone in the business. He had to research it himself. He had to go to Ontario for his training but he doesn't have to stay there in order to work. He plans on settling down in Nova Scotia while he continues to work and train outside the province.
It frustrates me when I see young people that I met when I was a substitute teacher working at jobs in our area that have nothing to do with what they went to college for. Some of them want to work in that field but they don't want to leave home. They paid tuition, they put in the time for studying and training but they aren't willing to do the rest of the work. They don't understand that now, when they are young, is the time to get as much education and apprenticeships and experience and exposure to the damn world that exists beyond this tiny little province as possible, before they settle down with marriage and children and a mortgage. All those personal goals are great but take care of your work future NOW or there won't be a future to stay home for.
Parents and teachers are not doing their children and students any favours by encouraging them to stay close to home, by not challenging them to explore every opportunity that is out there. Then again, if they've never left the area, if their idea of "world exposure" is a week in Mexico or Cuba, how can our young people have the courage and the example to think outside the box?
That's why Nova Scotia is stuck. That's why Nova Scotia is failing. The work exists -- yesterday's interview proves it -- but too many people are trapped by fear and the misguided belief that this is the best place to live. You can leave, you should leave, you need to go away and learn all that you can, become the best at what you do and BRING IT BACK HOME.
That's how you make Nova Scotia truly the best place to live.