The Nova Scotia government has shattered its goal of hiring five per cent more young people per year — and there's still four months left in the 2017-18 fiscal year.
According to figures shared with a legislature committee on Tuesday, 616 of the 1,300 people hired into a government job since April were under the age of 35.
That's 47 per cent of the new hires, although most of the jobs were either seasonal or part time; only 80 of those young people got full-time employment.
Steven Feindel, executive director of client service delivery in the province's Public Service Commission, credits the increase on the push to encourage young people to apply for government jobs.
"For new graduates and young Nova Scotians who have been working away and want to come home to start their careers, now is the time to join the public service," he told the committee's MLAs.
"Younger workers — and by that I mean 35 years and under — bring new ideas, enthusiasm and creativity to their workplaces. That insight and perspective is exactly what we need.
Feindel also noted there are "hundreds of career paths possible" in Nova Scotia's public service.
The aging workforce has been identified as a key challenge in a number of government departments, but Feindel said although thousands of workers are nearing retirement age, many are choosing to hang onto their jobs.
"I think we have roughly 13 per cent of our workforce that's over 60," he said. "So we know that we have to plan proactively for succession of the folks looking to retire.
"But as I commented in the committee, folks are staying longer in the workplace."
Nova Scotia's civil service consists of roughly 11,600 employees; Feindel said about two per cent of the workforce retires or leaves their job every year.
Beyond encouraging more young people to apply for jobs, the government has, in some cases, eliminated what were deem unnecessary barriers to employment, such as asking for at least five years' experience for entry-level jobs.
"I think it's opened up a tremendous number of opportunities for the younger workers," Feindel said.