Jazzlyn Nickel’s wish of staying in Nova Scotia to work in the trades is close to coming true.
Jazzlyn is one of 19 women who are part of a pilot program, between NSCC, Irving Shipbuilding Inc. and Women Unlimited that trains women for a career in the shipbuilding industry.
The group recently celebrated their first milestone – a 14-week pre-study course with Women Unlimited, a not-for-profit organization that assists women with barriers to employment.
Starting this fall, they will begin two years at NSCC in the Metal Fabrication or Welding diploma programs. After that, the women can look forward to job opportunities with Irving Shipbuilding Inc.
“My family didn’t come from much so this really opens a lot of doors,” says Jazzlyn Nickel.
She says she was interested in trades growing up, especially since two of her brothers are welders, but was never given a chance to explore the field in high school.
“Trades were never discussed with any of the females - that kind of career training was always for the boys.”
“Traditionally, shipbuilding has been a male-dominated field,” says Kevin McCoy, Irving Shipbuilding Inc. President. “But what we are really interested in is talent. This is about supporting and realizing the talent and potential of all future shipbuilders.”
To help with the cost of the studies, the women have received educational bursaries from Irving’s Centre of Excellence and the Canadian Welding Association. Other organizations such as Unifor, Praxair and others have also offered support with equipment donations.
Jazzlyn’s classmate, Amanda Orman, hopes the group’s experience influences other women to take male-dominated trade programs.
"I want my child to see me as the mom who bakes cookies, and the mom who builds ships."
While the women still have a challenging road ahead of them – many balancing the two years of study with families and jobs – the support from these organizations aim to ensure that they succeed as students, women and tradespersons.