A graduate of the Women Unlimited career exploration program, Kaylee Cunningham is now a marine service technician apprentice at Rosborough Boats. (Contributed)
Take 100 coins, spread them out on a table, then isolate five of the coins. That paltry five percent represents the number of women among all workers who earn a living in the various trades in Nova Scotia.
And only 19.5 per cent of workers employed in technology in the province are women.
Women Unlimited, a not-for-profit organization that helps women to explore opportunities in under-represented trades and technology, wants to see those numbers rise significantly.
From its locations in Halifax, Dartmouth, Sydney and Bridgewater, Women Unlimited officials work with industry, educational institutions and the community to address the systemic barriers that limit the participation of diverse women in the province’s trades and technology sectors.
“There are no male or female jobs; all jobs can be gender-neutral,” said Jeannie Eisnor, site co-ordinator at the Lunenburg/Queens office, located at the Nova Scotia Community College in Bridgewater. “Women can consider all options and choose careers that are good matches for them.”
Since 2006, more than 600 women have participated in the free 14-week career exploration programs, which provide opportunities for participants to receive expert instruction and key information regarding trades women might not otherwise have considered as career options.
Eisnor said the program helps participants discover how to access training related to possible careers, strengthen math and technical skills, and gain certification in safety protocols.
Also included is guidance on how to prepare for work in a manufacturing or industrial setting, and how to address challenges related to childcare and transportation to and from places of employment.
The completion rate is high. So far, 94 per cent of participants completed the hands-on program, and many of them have found employment with the more than 75 Nova Scotia firms that have partnered with Women Unlimited, including Michelin in Bridgewater and ABCO Industries in Lunenburg.
A new partnership was recently established with the Nova Scotia Boatbuilders Association for the boatbuilding trade and marine service technician trade.