On June 28, 2017, 20 women participating in the second class of the Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence – Women Unlimited Partnership Program celebrated the first phase of their journey to becoming welders and ironworkers at the Halifax Shipyard.
The women, who participated in Women Unlimited’s 14-week Career Exploration Program in the Metal Trades, are now set to enter NSCC’s metal fabrication or welding diploma programs at Akerley Campus in September. This is the second group of women to take part in this innovative partnership program, demonstrating Irving Shipbuilding’s commitment to diversifying their trades’ workforce.
The Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence and the Canadian Welding Association (CWA) Foundation awarded educational bursaries to each woman for their two-year diploma program. Additionally, Praxair Canada Ltd. and Walter Surface Technologies presented each graduate with the tools and equipment they will need to be successful in their metal trades programs.
“To ensure we are building a team of the best shipbuilders in the world, it is important that we create opportunities for all Canadians to enter shipbuilding trades. The graduates of the first class are already working at our Halifax Shipyard, clearly demonstrating the talent that this partnership has developed. We look forward to having the new class join our team proudly building ships for Canada upon completion of the program,” said Kevin McCoy, president, Irving Shipbuilding Inc.
Women Unlimited CEO Doreen Parsons says, "We are very proud of these strong and determined women. They have demonstrated their commitment to work hard to become the next generation of shipbuilders. We are also very proud of this groundbreaking partnership program. The first group of women who participated are employed at the Halifax Shipyard as welders and ironworkers. This second group are well on their way to joining them. It’s changing the lives of women and their families and it’s changing the face of shipbuilding in Canada.”
Kelly Trout, a participant of the program, notes, “The amount of support we, as women, are receiving is completely unrivaled by any other programs I have come across. We have gained access to transferable skills that we may not have been able to acquire otherwise. Even before we've started our core program at NSCC, we are already so much more employable than we were when we first walked in the door. I am so grateful for the bursaries from the Irving Shipbuilding Centre for Excellence, as well as the Canadian Welding Association Foundation who have been working in close partnership with Women Unlimited to make sure that we have everything we need to succeed once we are enrolled in our programs. I am so grateful to have been a part of this program and so excited to take the next step in my shipbuilding career.”
Deborah Mates, Executive Director of the CWA Foundation, adds, "Partnerships like these are so important to the future for these students. Knowing they have support along the way helps to ensure their success. The CWA Foundation is proud to be part of today's celebration."
NSCC President Don Bureaux says the ceremony is not only a graduation from the Women Unlimited program; it marks the first step in their connection with the College. “I can’t wait to welcome this second group of students through our doors at Akerley Campus as they work towards their goal of a college diploma in the metal trades and a new beginning for themselves and their families.”
At today’s celebration, successful graduates of the first Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence – Women Unlimited Partnership Program were in attendance to support the new class of students. These individuals have joined the Halifax Shipyard workforce, building Canada’s future naval fleet, and will mentor these new participants as they continue through their studies.
Irving Shipbuilding Inc. is working with the Royal Canadian Navy on the next class of Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) and Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) under the National Shipbuilding Strategy. To build these ships, Irving Shipbuilding has increased its workforce from 800 in 2011 to over 1,600 today. Total employment is forecasted to rise to over 2,500 at peak production of the CSC vessels.