Military Veterans Career Pivot: easing the transition to a career in ocean tech

Military Veterans Career Pivot: easing the transition to a career in ocean tech

As the recent Canadian Ocean Enterprise White Paper highlighted, there has been a surge in the formation of new Ocean Enterprise companies coinciding with the opening of COVE and other significant investments into the ocean economy.

Naturally, with growth in the ocean sector, the influx of new companies in Nova Scotia requires a talented workforce of both young and experienced employees. As COVE’s Director of Workforce Development, Tanya Lush is responsible for building a talent pipeline to match ocean sector demands.

“We start at the Junior High level developing educational programs and projects to engage young people and let them explore and understand ocean literacy and potential careers,” said Lush. “At the post-secondary level, we offer internships and work-integrated learning experiences.”

Tanya also works to build a mid-career pipeline for established and experienced professionals to pivot into a sector that they may or may not be completely qualified for.

While connecting with ocean tech companies, Tanya discovered that many had found young talented employees through COVE’s post-secondary internship program. However, they were struggling to find experienced and skilled mid-career workers available to hit the ground running and contribute immediately.

Simultaneously, Tanya was seeing a potential solution. Walking through the halls of COVE, she was inspired by veterans who have made the transition to ocean tech.

“I kept hearing that this is where they felt like they best fit, and I thought if they feel this way, there must be other veterans that are transitioning or retiring that feel they fit here too,” said Lush.

From these interactions, Tanya developed the Military Veterans Career Pivot Pilot with the objective of creating a smooth transition from the military to the ocean sector.

The pilot program is built into three phases, beginning with research and analysis through partnerships with the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), ocean companies and the Canadian Armed Forces.

“It’s a full 360: What do you have? What are you bringing with you? What do you need? What are your skills gaps?” said Lush. “We’re also going out to ocean companies to discover what skills and talents are needed with regards to competencies and abilities to pivot into their workplace.”

This research will help inform the second phase: training and development. The Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) will build a four-month program to deliver micro-credentials based on the discoveries of the skills gap analysis. Participating veterans will attend the college for programs designed to upskill and/or re-skill in areas they may be lacking to make the pivot to their next career in the ocean sector.

The third and final phase is career development and employment readiness. A four-month employment placement with a marine company will allow program participants to understand the sector and specific ways SME’s in the ecosystem operate.

“What I want veterans to know is that their career development and reskilling to enter the Ocean Sector is taken care of for these 8-10 months. Everything is very organized, it’s all very lockstep, with supports and resources in place to assist the vets in reaching their ultimate goal, a “next career” in the ocean sector,” said Lush.

When you discuss the veterans pivot program with Tanya and others at COVE, there is a clear level of excitement and confidence in their voice. Looking around at the many examples of veterans turned ocean sector professionals at COVE, it’s easy to see why. With high demand for mid-career professionals, the program is poised to find a new wave of ocean sector talent.

Are you or someone you know potentially interested in the Veterans Career Pivot Pilot? Contact Tanya Lush at to learn more.

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