CWB Welding Foundation: Supporting the Eastern Marine Industry

Woman of Steel participant welding a T joint in the horizontal position using the Shielded Metal Arc welding process.

Women Unlimited is proud to work side by side with Irving Shipbuilding Inc., Unifor, NSCC, the Province of Nova Scotia and the CWB Welding Foundation to improve shipbuilding opportunities for women.

“This is an amazing initiative, brought to life through truly groundbreaking partnerships. We are proud to work side by side with Irving Shipbuilding Inc., Unifor, NSCC, the Province of Nova Scotia and the CWB Welding Foundation to improve opportunities for women in the shipbuilding industry.”
– Doreen Parsons, CEO, Women Unlimited

As preparations advance for the 2019 CWB Group Educators Conference, to be hosted by the Nova Scotia Community College in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, it is great to see the impact made over the past five years in Eastern Canada through the collaboration between the CWB Group, the CWB Welding Foundation, and co-investing corporate, public sector and community partners. Whether through investments in infrastructure and capital equipment, or consumables supplied to secondary schools, advanced training opportunities for educators, the introduction of youth, women, and underrepresented populations to welding through ‘Mind Over Metal’ camps and/or the support of many students through student awards programming, we’re thrilled with progress to date and look forward to the future and continuing to advance welding career opportunity awareness and quality welding educational experiences in Eastern Canada.

Some of the most celebrated and impactful ways that CWB Welding Foundation provides support is through cooperative investment partnerships with other organizations and corporations. The CWB Welding Foundation has invested over $900,000 since 2016 and received co-operative investments of over $270,000 as well as in-kind contributions from corporate organizations, government, and other agencies supporting initiatives in Eastern Canada. CWB Welding Foundation is grateful and proud to have worked in Nova Scotia with Irving Shipbuilding’s Centre of Excellence, Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), and Women Unlimited, and in New Brunswick with Irving Oil and the New Brunswick Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, to contribute in meaningful ways towards building Eastern Canada’s highly skilled welding workforce.


Over the past four years, the Pathways to Shipbuilding program has supported two cohorts of female students on their journey towards becoming welders and metal fabricators in the shipbuilding industry. The program is a partnership between Women Unlimited, Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), Irving Shipbuilding Inc., the CWB Welding Foundation, the Province of Nova Scotia and Unifor. The Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence with NSCC provided program participants with educational bursaries that was matched by CWB Welding Foundation, to complete the welding and fabrication programs. To ensure these women were equipped with the support and tools necessary for success within their program, Women Unlimited conducted a 14-week pre-academic career readiness program and provided support and coaching during their 2-year NSCC diploma.

The first graduating class finished their two-year diploma programs in 2017 and 14 of the 16 graduates are apprentices, working towards their Red Seal certification, at Irving Shipbuilding’s Halifax Shipyard. The second cohort is in its last semester of school and students will be completing their five-week work term at Halifax Shipyard in the Spring of 2019, prior to graduation.

This Pathways to Shipbuilding program is an initiative of the Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence, as announced in October 2012. The mandate of the centre is to provide Nova Scotians, with particular focus on underrepresented communities, with access to programs and industry-focused training that helps participants emerge with highly-valued skills needed in the marine sector.

Women Unlimited’s CEO, Doreen Parsons, is a strong supporter of the program, stating “This is an amazing initiative, brought to life through truly groundbreaking partnerships. We are proud to work side by side with Irving Shipbuilding Inc., Unifor, NSCC, the Province of Nova Scotia and the CWB Welding Foundation to improve opportunities for women in the shipbuilding industry. Since 2015, two cohorts of 20 women have participated in our 14-week Career Exploration Program in the Metal Trades. With educational bursaries from the Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence and the CWB Welding Foundation, more than 90 percent of those women proceeded to NSCC’s two-year Welding and Metal Fabrication Diploma Programs. Now is the time to make diversity and inclusion a trademark for how we do business in Nova Scotia. If we do, we’ll build the next generation of skilled and talented shipbuilders right here — shipbuilders who reflect the diversity of our Nova Scotian communities.”

Rosalind Penfound, Vice President, Organizational Development at Nova Scotia Community College, and Chair of the Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence adds, “We have been proud partners in the Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence pathways programming, that is not only supporting the national shipbuilding project but is helping to enrich the team building those ships. Through excellent community partnerships with organizations like the CWB Welding Foundation, Women Unlimited, government and other key supporters, the Centre of Excellence has helped open doors to this important national project and the opportunities associated with it. Through our educational and training resources, we are committed to continue helping change the makeup of this critical workforce and ensure each participant in the program has a chance at a new beginning for themselves and their families in the process.” Irving Shipbuilding Inc. has already seen the success of this program taking place in their shipyards.

Support from CWB Welding Foundation also included wrap-around supports such as child-care and transportation. The CWB Welding Foundation is also supporting the Pathways to Shipbuilding for African Nova Scotian students, where funds contributed from the Foundation are supporting program costs for 20 students. These students started their two-year program at NSCC in September 2018.

Also, in August 2018, CWB Welding Foundation was grateful for the financial support of Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency who generously funded the Mind Over Metal welding camp held at NSCC in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia for students of Mi’kmaw KIna’matnewey.

“When we get asked about the success of the Pathways to Shipbuilding programs, I always stress our partnerships. It’s so important to have community, industry, government and academic partners with a shared goal to support the students from every angle. We’re proud of these programs, especially the graduates currently working as apprentices at Halifax Shipyard, and the students studying to be shipbuilders of the future. They will all be role models for their communities,” stated Sarah Simpson, Manager, Value Proposition & Community Relations, Irving Shipbuilding Inc.


The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and Irving Oil have partnered with CWB Welding Foundation to fund four high schools, with contributions totalling over $285,000. CWB Welding Foundation is a key facilitator and funder of this initiative. This three-way cooperative investment provided consumables and welding machines from Irving Oil, personal protective equipment, teacher training and CWBi Acorn learning material from CWB Welding Foundation, and infrastructure funding – ventilation and electrical support, from the Government of New Brunswick. These contributions made major improvements to technology education at Harbour View High School, Simonds High School and Hampton High School, focusing on shop safety, quality curriculum and supporting educator professional development. St. Malachy’s Memorial High School is set to receive upgrades in 2019.

This project has set an example for other industry leaders to encourage enrollment in the skilled trades and position these jobs as viable and quality career options in the Canadian workforce. The efforts of the CWB Welding Foundation and participating donors showcase the dedication to filling the gaps that are being left behind by retiring welders and supporting industry’s changing needs.

“The New Brunswick government is fortunate to have a strong partnership with the CWB Welding Foundation,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minster Dominic Cardy. “Having such a positive and mutually beneficial relationship with a national, industry-backed foundation has enabled us to partner with local industries to expand programs and increase the number of students exposed to welding skills and related potential career opportunities.”

CWB Welding Foundation encourages participation in cooperative investments to strengthen and sustain the supply of highly skilled welders in Canada. Please reach out to discuss ways that you can partner with CWB Welding Foundation to create impact and meaningful investments in the Canadian welding industry by e-mailing

“One of the objectives of our 10-year education plans is to improve learning in, and application of, the trades. Partnerships with industry help us offer students the chance to develop skills through hands-on experience that they can use in the job market,” said Cardy. “We are working hard to make sure we are providing training opportunities so our young people can acquire skills to continue to work and live in New Brunswick which will help strengthen our economy.”

“Thanks to the forward-thinking of the CWB Welding Foundation and other industry partners, like Irving Oil, we have been able to prove a successful model of co-operation that can be replicated and expanded into other jurisdictions,” said Cardy.

Area of Investment Impact Contributions made by CWB Welding Foundation Additional Co-investment
Pathways to Shipbuilding Program 60 students $163,000 50% of tuition costs and program costs
New Brunswick Schools 4 secondary schools PPE, Educator Training, CWBi Acorn $15,000 Irving Oil: $105,000

Government of New Brunswick: $165,000

Capital Equipment and Consumables support 29 schools $496,000
“Train the Trainer” professional development 70 educators $10,000
Mind Over Metal camps 23 camps = over 400 participants $96,000 $6,000
Secondary and Post-secondary Student Awards 64 students $160,000
Total: $940,000 Total: over $276,000