Increasing opportunities for tradeswomen

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​It is hard to believe that it has been almost 75 years since the first female recruits started in the trades at the Halifax Shipyard.

What began as a World War II hiring practice, due to a shortage of labour available in Nova Scotia, has led to the development of a strong and skilled team of female shipbuilders.

In the last five years the number of women working at the Halifax Shipyard has grown from 85 to more than 210, including 44 female Local 1 employees—15 who are red seal certified.

This growth has been good, but we know we can do even better.

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. This is why in 2012 we established the Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence at Nova Scotia Community College. The Centre of Excellence works to create opportunities for underrepresented groups to train for careers and benefit from Canada’s revitalized shipbuilding industry. 

Amy Mac Leod Final Compressed

Through the Centre of Excellence, the Irving Shipbuilding  Women Unlimited program was created to promote the full participation of women in trades. The program offers up to 20 seats for diverse women in 2-year welding or metal fabrication diploma programs at the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC). As positions become available, Irving Shipbuilding will hire successful graduates who meet employment eligibility criteria.

The initial Irving Shipbuilding Women Unlimited class graduated in June 2017, and 15 of the women graduating from the program are now employed at Halifax Shipyard.  Program graduate and apprentice welder, Denise Watters, was the focus of a media story about the program and joining our workforce.

The second class of the Irving Shipbuilding Women Unlimited program began in March 2017 at NSCC Akerley Campus, with the Metal Fabrication and Welding Diploma programs beginning September 2017.

Read more about Celebrating the Women of the Halifax Shipyard