The shipbuilding industry in Halifax has marked a new milestone in its push to diversify its workforce, with 20 young graduates from the Pathways Shipbuilding program already promised jobs.
Having worked for the past few years on breaking down gender barriers, more work is evolving in a partnership with Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax and the East Preston Empowerment Academy to get more African Nova Scotians involved in the trade.
“It’s really important that we work with partners who are looking to be inclusive and diversify their workforces,” said Danielle Hodges, an administrator with the East Preston Empowerment Academy. “And so that partnership is really the key point, to getting our African Nova Scotians into the trades.”
On Friday morning fourteen young men and four women graduated from the two-year Pathways to Shipbuilding program, where students gained practical skills in a range of disciplines from metal fabrication and welding to mathematics.
Now they’re ready to start their careers.
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“I’ve been thinking about that a lot because I left high school and came right to the program and now I’m here so, the next time I’m back I’m going to be starting my life here, it’s exciting,” said Ruqaiyah Abdu-Allah, a 20-year-old who grew up in Halifax.
Irving Shipbuilding president Kevin McCoy said they are proud to partner with the program, which in the past has helped introduce women into the shipbuilding trade.
McCoy says the opportunity to tap into underrepresented groups like women and people of colour helps the company build better ships. He confirmed that all 20 graduates will be offered job opportunities.
“We need them for the long haul,” said McCoy, “to build these great ships and we look forward to having their energy and their enthusiasm on our team.”
Not only can the grads celebrate the completion of their training and securing job opportunities, they’ll also have bragging rights that come with working on ships for Canadian Armed Forces and coast guard.
“It’s cool to be able to say that to people, ‘I welded on that ship and now it’s going to war,’ or whatever, but that’s really important,” said Abdu-Allah.