Mentoring matters

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NEW GLASGOW — Town of New Glasgow officials have partnered with educators, with input from Pictou County Big Brothers Big Sisters, on a novel life-long learning project to mesh retired men and women with young people’s aptitudes.

More than a dozen people met at Glasgow Square on March 2 to continue the initiative called Trained Mentor-Mentoring Plus as a way to help clients improve their chances of reaching their career goals as they approach working age.

“We applied for federal funding through New Horizons to do projects for age friendly people, such as matching retirees with skills,” said Geralyn MacDonald, director of Community Economic Development for the Town of New Glasgow. “Margie (Grant Walsh) is doing the matching and will co-ordinate on the ground.”

New Glasgow was the first stop for the event, which is planning visits elsewhere in the province.

Big Brother Big Sisters of Pictou County’s executive director, Margie Grant-Walsh, attended the event and will be a resource for the program in New Glasgow.

“They wanted to do a mentoring program and we’re providing the process and the policy,” she said. “We’ll be identifying the youth and making the matches.”

Mentoring is defined as a relationship-based intervention strategy that supports individuals, especially young people, facing life challenges.

Gordon Michael from Dalhousie University’s College of Continuing Education presented during part of the workshop on the subject Integrated Strategy for Social and Economic Opportunities.

He outlined trends in terms that included work and learning. Among the trends, 32 per cent of Nova Scotia Community College students in diploma or multi-year programs are not returning after the first year, while 17 per cent of Maritime students are no longer enrolled at Maritime universities. Degree completion in four years is 39 per cent and for five years is 58 per cent.

He shared other statistics that indicate nearly half of Canadian jobs are at high risk of being impacted by automation in the next 10 to 20 years.

“I want to bring them back together every three months to see what they have learned,” Michael said of the retirees who join the program. “We have an ongoing learning model. We have a lot of retired people with a lot of knowledge.”

He noted that 67 per cent more post-career Canadians were working between 2001 and 2009 and most entrepreneurs are more than 50 years old.

Seniors want to stay engaged in the community for reasons that include physical and mental health and general well-being.

Retired educator Debbie McIsaac is helping Michael with the mentoring and follow-up.

From left: Debbie McIsaac, Gordon Michael, Margie Grant-Walsh and New Glasgow Mayor Nancy Dicks were among those who attended a Mentoring Plus event on Friday at Glasgow Square. (Goodwin photo)

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