A new partnership aims to get more women into traditionally male-dominated fields like welding and metal fabrication.

Irving’s Shipbuilding Centre for Excellence is partnering with Women Unlimited, Unifor, and the Nova Scotia Community College to provide jobs in the shipbuilding industry for 20 women of diverse backgrounds.

Doreen Parsons, Manager of the Women Unlimited Association, says the women started their 14-week Career Exploration Program in April. The program provides hands-on trades experiences, safety certifications, essential skills and mentoring, and gives them the tools they may need to overcome systemic barriers in this traditionally male-dominated field.

“Those women who successfully complete the Career Exploration Program will proceed to the Welding and Metal Fabrication Programs at the NSCC Akerley Campus in September 2015,” Parsons says.

Don Bureaux, president of the Nova Scotia Community College, says the project is a true collaboration between the four partners to ensure the workers of Nova Scotia are ready for the opportunities the shipbuilding project will bring to the province.

“Each partner in this program is committed to helping Nova Scotia change the makeup of our workforce,” he says.

At the end of the two-year diploma program, the successful graduates will be offered jobs with Irving Shipbuilding. “This is an amazing initiative,” Parsons says.

“Now that 20 women have started the program, it gets more exciting each day. These women are keen, hard working and fully committed to building their skills to become the welders of tomorrow.”

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