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Developing Skilled Trades and Careers at Irving Shipbuilding

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19 women have successfully completed the Women Unlimited 14-week Career Exploration Program in Metal Trades at NSCC Akerley Campus, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The women are now set to begin either the NSCC Metal Fabrication or Welding diploma program this fall 2015. The pilot is part of the Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence, an initiative designed to support training for a new generation of skilled tradespersons.
Irving Shipbuilding Inc. President Kevin McCoy says, “When Irving Shipbuilding won the right to build Canada’s new combat fleet in 2011, the long term vision of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy gave us the opportunity to look long term at how we build a pipeline of talented and skilled shipbuilders right here at home. It also gave us the opportunity to make that pipeline more diverse than the traditional shipbuilding industry had seen previously. Congratulations to these 19 remarkable women. Today we celebrate not only their accomplishments but the unique and innovative partnerships that came together to help make today happen.”
The aim of the Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence – an initiative established by ISI and NSCC – is to build opportunities for careers in shipbuilding for Nova Scotians with particular focus on diverse communities currently under-represented in Irving Shipbuilding’s workforce and the sector itself. The centre is not a physical structure, but a pathway for people to connect to the training that leads to careers in shipbuilding.
Women Unlimited Manager Doreen Parsons says,“This partnership is a win/win for the women and for the shipbuilding industry. The women will begin building careers with a great future and the industry will build strength through increased diversity. We are very proud to be partners in this initiative and value the support from industry.”
Denise Watters, a participant of the Women Unlimited program, says the pilot program is a great opportunity for each woman. “This program is setting us up for success. I’m overjoyed to be a part of it and to imagine what it will mean for my future.”
Each program graduate was provided with educational bursaries from ISI and the Canadian Welding Association (CWA) Foundation that can be used to cover costs of the two-year metal trades programs they’ll begin this fall. Deborah Mates, Executive Director of the CWA Foundation, was present at the ceremony to announce her support. “This partnership with Women Unlimited demonstrates our commitment to women in trades and the long term success of the Canadian welding industry,” she says. “It’s a pleasure to work with such a great group. I’m more than confident these women will have a great career in the welding profession starting at the Irving Shipyard where they will receive ample knowledge from the skilled workforce already there. I truly wish them the best as they embark on this new chapter in their lives.”
Additionally, Praxair Canada Inc. and Walter Surface Technologies presented the women with equipment and the work gear they will require as metal trades workers.
The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Public Works and Government Services says, “Skilled workers are the foundation of a modern and world-class shipbuilding industry. The graduation of these 19 women from the Women Unlimited program is a testament to the positive impacts of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy in the Atlantic region.”
NSCC President Don Bureaux says that the event is a huge stepping stone for each of the women but also a huge component of ensuring all hands are on deck to assist in supporting the success of the national shipbuilding contract. “The College is pleased to be part of this tremendous opportunity for Nova Scotia and its citizens and for the entire country.”

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