February 17, 2016 11:42 pm
Updated: February 18, 2016 10:43 am

Overcoming learning barriers led a Halifax woman to her dream job

A recent NSCC grad is putting her welding skills to the test at an upcoming competition in France. Global’s Alexa MacLean reports.


Most people don’t feel comfortable playing with fire but Helena Mabbett certainly does.

“I love fire and I’m not afraid of it so I figured this would be the best fit because that’s all you deal with is fire,” said Mabbett, a Halifax-based welder.

A recent grad of the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) welding program, she says she was thrilled to find a career out of school in her home province.

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“It actually felt pretty terrific because I have all my support team here, and that, and I’m a single mom, with a daughter,” Mabbett said.

She spends her days working at the Halifax Shipyard and two nights a week training at the Akerley Campus with her welding coach.

“Me and Steve meet up after work and we do the stainless steel and we do the aluminum as well with the TIG method,”Mabbett said.

The pair are training for a skills-based competition called Abilympics.

The Abilympics is a world-wide competition for people with disabilities to show off their skills in trades and technology areas. This year the event is being held in Bordeaux, France.

“I have dyslexia, so that qualifies me in for it. Having dyslexia only affects you if you have to read, write or spell,” Mabbett said.

Mabbett was diagnosed with the learning disability after enrolling in the “Women Unlimited” program at NSCC.

The free 14-week program provides support for women with barriers to employment.

“The help support was there. Thank goodness things have changed academically in the schools to actually help people and they’re just not overlooking it anymore,” Mabbett said.

Her mentor, Stephen Stewart, is a welding instructor at NSCC and is joining her on the trip to France.

“She should do very well, she’s been picking up things fairly quick. She makes adjustments to things, she doesn’t continue to do the same thing over and over again, she see’s an issue she’ll correct it so I think she’ll do well,” Stewart said.

The skills competition is in its ninth year and is on March 26 and 27.


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