Camo to Clear Coats: Nova Scotia highlights importance of helping former veterans transition to skilled trades

Halifax, Nova Scotia — A Nova Scotia legislature committee was taught the importance of supporting military members transitioning to skilled trades upon leaving the service, on Tuesday.

Nicole Johnson-Morrison, associate deputy minister with the provincial labour department, told the veterans affairs committee that many members of the military have unique skills the provincial economy is in need of as Nova Scotia’s population grows.

“We are looking for skilled trade workers to help us build Nova Scotia,” Johnson-Morrison said.

Given the shortage of skilled tradespersons, the deputy minister said that the province is working with trades organizations and the military to ease the transition to civilian life, offering career advice online and through Nova Scotia Works centres.

Between 2017 and 2021, 235 military clients were assisted, 47 received funding for training and 41 completed their red seal certification.

However, Brad Smith, executive director of the Mainland Nova Scotia Building Trades Council, told the committee that more can be done—veterans bring leadership and soft skills, but carry technical skills that may require some modification.

Out of nearly 100 military trades, only nine can attempt the red seal certification exam straight out of the service without further training. Smith highlights the example of drivers having equivalent careers in the civilian world, but not naval electricians.

Even in trades with immediate carry over to the collision repair industry, further development may be required—repairing a dent in civilian and military trucks may be similar, but colour matching a Ford’s gloss coat is very different from repainting a Bison personnel carrier for desert operations.

“The civilian employer hiring a veteran is gaining an employee with skills and professional knowledge and a proven record of learning and adaptability,” said Lt.-Col. Ross Bonnell, commanding officer of the Canadian Armed Forces Transition Centre.


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