Inter Pipeline funnels $580K into journeywoman program

Graduates of Women Building Future's Journeywoman Start program were on hand on Wednesday, Sept. 4 for Inter Pipeline's $580,000 funding announcement. Lindsay Morey/News Staff

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With a major boost in funding, it’s hoped that more double-X chromosomes will soon enter the trades.

On Wednesday, Sept. 4, Inter Pipeline Ltd. (IPL) announced it will invest $580,000 into Women Building Futures’ 17-week Journeywoman Start program, which gives women classroom and hands-on apprenticeship training for students across six industrial trades. The move is hoped to get more women into an area where they have been traditionally underrepresented in the workforce in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland.

Hundreds of women could be helped from Inter Pipeline’s $580,000 funding into WBF’s Journeywoman program over a three-year period. Lindsay Morey/News Staff

“Not only is the Heartland Petrochemical Complex project a groundbreaking project for Canada and our industry, but our project reflects our company’s desire to to be an organization that demonstrates our commitment to being an equal opportunity employer for qualified tradespeople,” Christian Bayle, Inter Pipeline’s president and chief executive officer said during a press conference at the Heartland Petrochemical Complex. “I’m very happy that Inter Pipeline can be a change agent in this important area, providing people with options and opportunity. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”

Kathy Kimpton, Women Building Futures (WBF), outlined the funding will allow women to train and work within the Capital Region, which is critical to family life and communities. Hundreds of women could be helped from this funding over the three-year period.

“Sometimes a woman’s decision to change her career doesn’t happen overnight, it takes a long time to make such a radical decision, so to have this ongoing support means that we’ll be able to stick with women every step along the way. Women exploring new careers or those who already in training will hear directly from IPL about what it’s like to work on a project like this — a project that will have global impacts with some of the biggest equipment in the world. We’re proud to partner with a company like IPL, who is committed to creating a diverse workforce for all of the right reasons.”

If one per cent of Canadian women aged 20-49 went into the trades, 28 per cent of the labour shortage could be solved nationally.

The funding will also help raise awareness about WBF and set IPL up to attract the best talent possible in order to be competitive in a global marketplace.

Edmonton resident and WBF Journeywoman Start program graduate, Kaila Day-Morrison noted she grew up interested in the trades as her parents were involved in the construction industry, however, she took a longer route to become a tradesperson leaving a salon management position to land a maintenance labourer job and looks forward to starting an apprenticeship as a heavy-duty mechanic.

WBF Journeywoman Start program graduate, Kaila Day-Morrison changed careers and started working as a maintenance labourer with goals to enter into a heavy-duty mechanic apprenticeship. Lindsay Morey/News Staff

“It was such a great experience. I met some of the strongest women from all walks of life and they all wanted the same thing; to challenge ourselves and find a career that worked for us. We had instructors who wanted nothing more than to set us all up for success and throughout the entirety of the program, they were all very encouraging and helpful,” Day-Morrison said. “The program gave me and others an opportunity that we might have never had the chance at and the confidence that we can do this…. I have really been enjoying my job since Day 1. My advice to any women out there who are interested in joining this industry, if it’s something that really interests you, just go for it.”

“Ensuring our workforce is reflective of all of Canada is a key component to our success,” noted Bayle. “We know that change does not come as quickly as we would like, but as I look back (on the past 20 years with IPL), I’ve seen that attitudes and expectations around women in industrial trade has changed for the better. I’m looking forward to helping build an even stronger, more inclusive labour force and continuing that momentum that has been generated here today in Alberta.”

Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, Tanya Fir outlined the solution to the province’s labour shortage is right in front of us; get more women trained in the trades.

“We need to support more women to build their futures in the trades. Inter Pipeline and Women Building Futures are taking a major step forward in addressing the labour gap. As the owner of nearly 8,000 kilometres of pipeline and natural gas processing facilities across Alberta, Inter Pipeline is a major employer and their efforts to empower women is a welcomed step,” Fir added.

lmorey@postmedia.com

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