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Deion Parsons, 2023 Irving Shipbuilding Apprentice of the Year

Deion Parsons has been named the 2023 winner of the Ron Starkey Apprentice of the Year Award at Halifax Shipyard. Deion was among 49 shipbuilders who achieved Red Seal certification in 2023.

Deion began his journey through the Pathways to Shipbuilding program and quickly impressed his supervisors with his eagerness to learn and team first mindset.

“It’s a great feeling to be acknowledged when you know you've put the work in,” says Deion. “It lets me know that everything I’ve done hasn’t gone unnoticed. I’m honored to be named apprentice of the year, and I will not soon forget it.” Deion's advice for current and upcoming apprentices is not to give up, set goals, put in the work, and seek advice from those you consider better than yourself. “The best welders I’ve seen at ISI are the ones I gravitated towards for help. I was never afraid to ask questions, and that made me better.”

L-R: Garret Phillips - Vice President of Unifor MWF Local 1, Deion Parsons - 2023 Apprentice of the Year, Nancy Lochhead - Vice President of Production at Irving Shipbuilding

Prior to winning Apprentice of the Year, Deion was recognized as Apprentice of The Month for his hard work and has been committed to growing his skills and sharing his knowledge with his teammates ever since.

“From day one, Deion worked safely. Every day he made a strong effort and maintained near-perfect attendance during his time with me. He persevered through the challenges of learning a new trade in a demanding industry. Deion is a quiet leader who supports his teammates and me through the daily trials and tribulations. His Apprentice of the Year award was well-deserved, and his hard work has opened many doors for him,” says Corey Sargent, Deion’s former supervisor, now Team Lead, Quality Control.

L-R: Deion Parsons, 2023 Apprentice of the Year, Corey Sargent, Team Lead, Quality Control

Established in 2014, the Irving Shipbuilding Apprentice of the Year Award honors veteran shipbuilder Ron Starkey, who started his career as an Apprentice Machinist at Halifax Shipyard in 1987. After earning his Red Seal, Ron dedicated himself to mentoring apprentices until his passing in 2013 after a courageous battle with ALS.

“The Apprentice of the Year award acknowledges the exceptional commitment, resilience, and leadership exhibited by individuals throughout their apprenticeship,” says Shawn McKillop, Team Lead of the Apprentice Program. “Deion has exemplified these qualities as a Welder Apprentice and now, as a Red Seal Journeyperson, he continues to enrich the apprenticeship experience by offering guidance and fostering growth through mentorship at Irving Shipbuilding.”

Along with the Apprentice of The Year recognition, skilled tradespeople who standout for their exceptional work in their respective trades were also recognized. These awards are presented to individuals for trades with five or more Red Seal recipients. Congratulations to the winners: Cory Farrell (Pipefitter) Anton Oster (Millwright), Luke Clarke (Welder), and Andrew MacBurnie (Metal Fabricator) for their outstanding contributions within their trade.

L-R: Cory Farrell – Pipefitter, Anton Oster – Millwright, Luke Clarke – Welder, Andrew MacBurnie – Metal Fabricator

Irving Shipbuilding takes great pride as the leading employer of skilled tradespeople in Atlantic Canada, offering support through dedicated Skill Coaches, as well as continuing to pay our skilled trades workers while they are completing required block training.

Congratulations to our new Red Seals! We are proud of the work you do and all your accomplishments. We hope you will strive to be positive mentors for the apprentices following in your footsteps.


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