Q & A Fredericton

Conversation with Nadia Ivanko and Sarah Corey Hollohan

Fredericton, and the Capital region of New Brunswick is one of the newest National Connector Program communities, joining in the summer of 2022. They are already making big waves in the community, engaging a large number of diverse Connectors, meeting with a steady stream of Connectees, and gaining a solid following on social media thanks to their profiles of Connectors. As the program has been successful right from the start, we wanted to chat with Nadia Ivanko, former Connector Program Coordinator and Sarah Corey-Hollohan, CEO of Ignite, about the implementation of the program, and how they see their community benefitting from this program.

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Alida Campbell

Interview by Alida Campbell.

Alida manages the National Connector Program and continues to be inspired by the stories of connection and growth that participants share across the country.
Alida

Alida:

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today! I wanted to ask how the program is fitting in with your organization and its goals?

Nadia

Nadia:

Ignite is an Economic Development Agency, and one of our workforce development objectives is to help newcomers and recent graduates gain access to professional networks and land meaningful employment. We have a team that is equipped with knowledge and strategies, and I believe the Connector Program can be a great tool to achieve our workforce development goals. The Connector Program connects economic development initiatives to the public so that an average person can feel the impact of what Ignite does.

Sarah

Sarah:

We have our workforce strategy, our immigration strategy, and our business growth and retention initiative, and Connector fits into all of that. It plays a concrete role between workforce development and business attraction. It provides a network of people to validate labour market trends. It allows us to test out new ideas and models and it’s been successful. It’s the thread that has brought together so many departments, we had no idea the extent to which it aligned with our internal departments and workings of Ignite – it’s our secret sauce!

Alida

Alida:

Now that’s a great metaphor to describe how it works within an economic development organization. What about within your community? What impact will it have?

Sarah

Sarah:

For Connectors, this program isn’t a strategy, it is something they can participate in and move the needle in their community. It’s providing valuable connections. By pre-vetting the connections, the program is resulting in much more meaningful meetings and workforce opportunities. It’s skipping the first 2-3 steps. It’s a value-add on to the workforce participation rates – people can educate themselves on a sector before committing to exploring education or upskilling– for Connectors and Connectees who are looking for talent and opportunities it’s basically a first date.

Nadia

Nadia:

It’s a program to increase inclusion and diversity in the workforce. It will allow newcomers into the circle of trust of the local employers and fix an underemployment issue. The more people that are involved with the program, the better connected our community is.

Alida

Alida:

Wonderful. Nadia, as a newcomer yourself, what does this program mean to you?

Alida

Alida:

As a newcomer, I can feel and relate to all the problems the connectees have. I know the range of feelings and emotions immigrants go through, and I want to share the lessons I also learned. Sharing these lessons will help them be more positive and become motivated again if they have had trouble finding employment or settling. It’s also gratifying to be surrounded by talented, bright people and meet successful professionals who are eager to help newcomers and recent graduates. I love meeting with hard-working individuals who want to make a difference.

Alida

Alida:

As you just recently launched the program, what can you say about that experience? What might you say to communities thinking about starting a Connector Program?

Sarah

Sarah:

You definitely should give it full consideration. I think, going into it, it’s such an adaptable tool to help a sector or community to get boots on the ground to produce insight without too much busy work. It’s purposeful and impact driven activity instead of a bums in seats activity. It’s got huge value.

Nadia

Nadia:

When I was getting ready to launch the program, I looked at the resources on the website and understood that this program works in various areas around the country. When someone asks about the program, even though I don’t have stats or numbers to share from our program, I can share that it has and does work elsewhere, and this is very comforting to people. I also got great ideas for our website from other programs. Learning best practice from others is so important. NCP coordinators from other communities are very supportive and willing to share their knowledge.

Alida

Alida:

Thanks to both of you for taking the time to speak with me. The value this program has brought to your organization, and the connections it is creating with people, organizations, and even departments in your organization is captivating. Fredericton is already a model community for us and we are so happy to have you on board, making a difference in your community, and for other communities across the country!