Seaspan donations to boost training for women in B.C. trades

Camosun College’s initiative to attract more women into trades has received a $300,000 boost.

The money from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation was announced Thursday in North Vancouver. It will go toward the college’s $5-million Trademark of Excellence Campaign, which includes a program targeted at women.

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This donation has increased the campaign total to $3.7 million, said Angus Matthews, Camosun campaign director.

As well, the Canadian Welding Association Foundation is receiving $300,000 from the Washington Foundation to support trades in high schools in Greater Victoria and North Vancouver.

The B.C. Institute of Technology is receiving $300,000 for aboriginal students in trades.

The $900,000 total donation will be rolled out over three years.

Camosun’s Trademark campaign includes the Step Up for Women initiative, with a goal of increasing the number of women studying trades at Camosun from the 144 enrolled now to 500 by 2020, Matthews said.

“This $300,000 will actually be invested in encouraging more young women to join the trades and also providing the support, career counselling, and job placement that they require to get their foothold in the workplace.”

The long-term goal is to “establish Camosun as the gateway for women entering trades in B.C.,” Matthews said.

Camosun has a welcoming culture for all students and for women in particular, he said.

The donation will also foster better mentoring and better role modelling for women considering entering the trades, he said.

“The trades gap is real. The skills gap is real and under-represented groups are absolutely essential to the future of trades. Trades really needs to benefit from having more women participate.”

At this time, Camosun has 2,700 students in trades and is aiming to reach 3,700 in four or five years, Matthews said. “This is a huge vote of confidence in us as an Island college,” he said.

Matthews praised the money targeted for high schools, saying it will help create a seamless link to college.

The money is from the Washington family and the Washington Companies, which includes Seaspan, owner of Victoria Shipyards and Vancouver Shipyard and Vancouver Drydock. The company is building billions of dollars worth of non-combat vessels for the federal government. Funds are part of the industrial and regional benefits policy program within the national shipbuilding strategy for new federal vessels.

On top of today’s announcement, Seaspan committed earlier this year to dedicate $2 million for teaching and research for naval architecture and marine engineering programs at the University of B.C.’s faculty of applied science.

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