Driver Training Program
Due to the rural nature of Nova Scotia, and Lunenburg County in particular, not having a valid driver’s license is a barrier to employment. In a traditional school environment, students could participate in extracurricular driver training programs funded by parents. At Bridgewater Adult High, we noticed that many of our students were not among those able to afford driver training. Without a high school diploma and without a license, viable employment opportunities are severely limited. As a student support, we began to take students in to Access Nova Scotia to write their learner's test. After successfully passing their learner's however, many of our students were still unable to get further in-car training to complete their license, and it expired. This fact was recognized and through government support, we applied for a grant that would allow for in-car driver training to take place. We hope that with a permanent driver's license, the accessibility of both school and work can be dramatically improved.
We are currently funded for 15 students to take our “Lessons for the Road of Life” course. This course is offered as referral service only because we wanted to ensure that our funds are spent on those who could not normally afford such a course. Referral sources include the Department of Community Services, the SSRCE and NS Works.
- According to Bramham (2017) and aboriginal employment specialists for B. C. Hydro “I know across the province, not having a driver’s license is one of the main barriers to employment…But it’s so tough to get your driver’s license.”
- Though Bridgewater has recently established a bus transit system, it only serves the immediate town of Bridgewater, which is roughly 8, 500 residents. There is no public transit for the residents of Lunenburg County, which is an accumulative 47, 000 residents.
- Semeuls (2016) states “Not all jobs require a driver’s license, particularly those that pay very low wages. But having one is a very common requirement for the sorts of jobs that can actually lift people out of poverty.”
- According to Labour Market Information in NS, of the seven sectors of employment, a driver’s license certification was listed in every sector as a skill in demand. (https://explorecareers.novascotia.ca/skills)
- According to the 2016 Census data, provincially in Nova Scotia, 80% of the employed labour force aged 15 and over in private households use a car, truck, or van, as a driver to commute to work, as do 78% of the people who live in Bridgewater specifically. (https://statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016)
- According to Marr(2015), “In particular, low-income individuals and youth residing in rural areas have been found to be at particular risk of being unable to access training, education, and employment opportunities due to transportation limitations. For instance, one study from rural Ontario found that 48 per cent of rural youth could not access employment as they lacked transportation.(Herold & Kaye, 2001)”
- Currently this semester, many of our adult students, have been impacted by CoVid-19 in one way or another. Approximately 50% of our enrolled adult high school students, with the vast majority of them considered low income and/or in marginalized groups, didn’t have their driver’s license when they enrolled with us.