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HomeNewsHalifaxApplications are open for NSCC’s free 14-week Women Unlimited program

Applications are open for NSCC’s free 14-week Women Unlimited program

Bridging the gender gap in technology and trades since 2006

Women in Nova Scotia are receiving unique support from a free 14-week program at Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), launched in 2006. The newest class starts in January 2024, and applications are now open for new students.

The program, Women Unlimited, provides a path to trades and technology fields usually dominated by males. In a 2021 to 2022 Statistics Report filed by The Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency, women are drastically unrepresented. 

Sectors in the report include construction, motive power, industrial manufacturing and service. Of 7,351 apprentices within these sectors in Nova Scotia, only 614 are women.

Support from the Nova Scotian government

A recent announcement by Premier Tim Houston further supports the introduction of newcomers to the trades with a promise to spend $100 million over three years to increase trade recruitment. Houston notes a growing population as the cause for demand in Nova Scotia trades training. 

The goal of the provincial government’s contribution to trade training is to add up to 5,000 apprentices over three years. Houston places heightened focus on the development of hospitals, roads, and homes.

Houston’s contribution supports trade training in general but doesn’t solve the lack of women in the industry.

Women Unlimited program director, Vivian Dixon, told Steve Gow of City News earlier this week, “We don’t see a lot of women in trades and technology. Sadly, only about five per cent of women are employed in the trades and technology.”

Exploring the program

The Women’s Unlimited program is free and provides insight into a variety of trades and technology fields taught at NSCC. Following completion of the program, students may enroll in the School of Trades and Transportation, School of Technology and Environment and make knowledgeable choices about future education and career choices in the trades.

Some of the trade courses taught through NSCC include Civil Engineering Technology, Automotive Service and Repair, Electrical Engineering Technology and Heavy Duty Equipment Repair.

During the 14-week program, students are familiarized with basic tools and equipment, visit worksites, are introduced to local employers and have opportunities to oversee on-site operations and working conditions. Students participate in diversity training and learn about the specific challenges women encounter in trades. 

Along with on-site training, students meet with union representatives, apprenticeship consultants and trainers, local business leaders, and a variety of trades-specific guest speakers.

To participate in the Women Unlimited program, seek referral through the Department of Community Services – Employment Support Services or Nova Scotia Works.

Applicants must be high school graduates (or equivalent), identify as a woman, be eligible to work in Canada and be at least 18 years old as the program begins. Applicants must also be unemployed or working less than 20 hours a week, able to attend in-person classes and not currently attending another educational program.

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