Skills Development

Program Information

Program Objective

The Skills Development (SD) program provides unemployed, Labour Market Development Agreement (LMDA) eligible Nova Scotians, who need to learn additional basic to advanced skills, development training to help them obtain the skills they need to find work in Nova Scotia’s labour market. SD participants should be those who lack marketable skills and need new or additional occupational skills in order to improve their employment prospects but are otherwise job-ready. Participants requesting support through this program attend training on a full-time basis and training may be approved through public or private training providers.

Who delivers Skills Development?

Employment Nova Scotia delivers Skills Development and other Employment Benefits and Support Measures in Nova Scotia.


Eligibility Information

Client Eligibility:

  • You are unemployed
  • You are Canadian citizen or permanent resident legally entitled to work in Canada
  • You are a resident of Nova Scotia at the time the completed SD application is received by Employment Nova Scotia (ENS)
  • You are LMDA Eligible. To be LMDA eligible you must meet one of the following:
    • have a current Employment Insurance (EI) claim
    • have had an EI claim that ended in the previous 60 months
    • have received benefits under the EI emergency response benefit within the previous 60 months
    • have been employed with gross insurable earnings of $2000 or higher annually, in at least 5 of the last 10 years.
  • You are otherwise job-ready but lack marketable skills and need new or additional occupational skills in order to improve your employment prospects


  • You have been fully participating in the labour market for at least 36 months before you submit an application. This is known as Labour Force Attachment (LFA). If you have been a student, you must have made a clear transition from school to the labour market and have been fully participating in the labour market for at least 36 months.

To be attached to the labor force you must have been:

  • actively seeking employment
  • employed full-time
  • maintaining part-time employment while actively seeking full-time employment
  • self-employed


  • a combination of the above

Your 36 months of labour force attachment does not need to be continuous. You can have breaks and still qualify if the total LFA time throughout your employment history meets the 36 months minimum.

When calculating your 36 months, do not include any time for which you voluntarily withdrew or removed yourself from the labour market as a result of one or more of the following:

  • You were in receipt of EI Special Benefits — maternity, parental, sickness, compassionate care, or family caregiver benefit.
  • You were not actively seeking employment while unemployed.
  • You were enrolled in an educational institution full-time (including periods of summer employment or part-time employment while enrolled).

Skills Development Program Labour Force Attachment Pilot for Individuals Underrepresented in the Labour Market

The Pilot, introduced on July 8, 2019, enables new applicants to the Skills Development Program who self-identify as one or more of specified individuals underrepresented in the labour market to be eligible for the program if they have been part of the labour force for a minimum of 24 months throughout their employment history instead of 36 months.

This piloted policy change is intended to enable earlier access to the Skills Development Program in order to reduce barriers and promote opportunities for individuals underrepresented in Nova Scotia’s labour market.

Eligible individuals underrepresented in Nova Scotia’s labour market may participate in the program with a minimum of 24 months Labour Force Attachment. Persons who identify with one or more of the following may be eligible:

  • Indigenous (including but not limited to Mi’kmaq)
  • African Nova Scotians
  • Visible minorities (including persons of African descent)
  • Persons with disabilities (includes individuals living with a physical, cognitive or mental impairment)
  • Recent immigrants (persons who entered Canada within the past five years and are eligible to work in Canada)

Training Eligibility:

  • Full time
  • Industry recognized
  • Lead to certificate, diploma or degree
  • Training institutions must be registered, not required to be registered or exempt, in keeping with Private Career Colleges regulations and standards
  • Duration
    • Minimum 5 days
    • Maximum of 3 years per intervention

What else do I need to know?

Read Skills Development Program Guidelines (PDF).

Applications for funding must be received at least two (2) calendar weeks before the regular scheduled course start date. The start date is the date that has been identified by the training institution on the acceptance letter or website. Applications received after this deadline will not be considered for funding.

Note: If the deadline date is a holiday, then the application should be received in our office the business day prior.

  • The date your completed application is received by Employment Nova Scotia is the date when you are considered to have requested assistance. This date is used to determine whether you qualify as a LMDA eligible participant within the time frames noted above.
  • If you are currently receiving Employment Insurance, you may continue to receive your regular Employment Insurance benefits until the end of your benefit period, after which you may be eligible to receive a living allowance until the end of your Skills Development agreement.
  • If you are not in receipt of Employment Insurance benefits, you may be eligible to receive financial assistance for living expenses.
  • Temporary financial assistance may be provided in exceptional circumstances to cover all or part of the following costs related to participation (dependent care, tuition, books, disability needs, transportation and accommodation).
  • Individuals who participate in Skills Development are normally required to make a financial contribution towards the cost of their training.
  • Your application must be approved by Employment Nova Scotia before you begin your training.
  • Employment Nova Scotia's agreement with an individual can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to three years depending on Employment Nova Scotia's local business plan and the participant's Return to Work Action Plan.


Application Information

How do I apply?


As part of the application process, it is necessary for you to receive an employment assessment and develop a Return to Work Action Plan with a case manager. The case manager's decision is required before Employment Nova Scotia can assess your application. Please refer to the list of Nova Scotia Works Employment Services Centres to find an organization that provides Case Management in your area.

The Employment Assistance Service provider can guide you through your application for financial assistance under the Skills Development Employment Benefit.




Contact Information