A $300,000 donation will provide a significant boost for Camosun College and women pursuing trades education on Vancouver Island.
The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation is providing $300,000 to support women entering the shipbuilding/repair trades at Camosun College. A further donation of $300,000 will be invested in enhanced trades education at high schools in three South Island school districts as well as North Vancouver.
“This is a breakthrough moment for women entering the skilled trades in British Columbia,” said Camosun College president Sherri Bell. “Camosun’s new $35 million trades complex has transformed trades education on Vancouver Island and in B.C. and now many more of our trades students will be women thanks to this generous support from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. We also recognize the essential role of our school district partners on southern Vancouver Island. The foundation’s support for the entry-level programs where we draw our students from shows true vision and a deep commitment. This creates a seamless educational link for women from high school to job site and excellent careers.”
Camosun College’s Centre for Trades Education and Innovation opened just four months ago, ushering in a new era in trades education. The centre includes 52 custom-designed welding stations and an impressive array of leading-edge equipment in dedicated shops and classrooms. The transformation of Camosun’s trades complex adds capacity for up to 1,000 additional trades students and now, thanks to the $300,000 donation, many more of them will be women.
The funds from the foundation will help launch Camosun’s STEP Up for Women Initiative, which includes enhanced outreach to introduce more women to the trades, additional student bursary support, mentoring, career coaching and job placement.
The contribution of a further $300,000 to the Canadian Welding Association Foundation will be invested in additional teaching equipment and professional development for welding trade teachers in four school districts including Victoria and Saanich and Sooke on Vancouver Island. Students can simultaneously finish their Grade 12 year and take trades foundation credit courses at Camosun College through the dual credit program without tuition costs. Over 10,000 students have already benefited from this program.
The combined investment of $600,000 by the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation is expected to increase the number of women enrolled in trades at Camosun each year from 144 today to over 500 by 2020.
“Giving people the tools they need to succeed in life is a primary goal of the foundation and the partnership with Seaspan to promote access to state-of-the-art training in the trades is directly aligned with the mission and goals of the goundation,” said Mike Halligan, executive director of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation.
The major donations are part of a $2.9 million multi-year, multi-million dollar investment in the future of British Columbia’s marine industrial sector by Seaspan and the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. The $2.9 million commitment also includes a $300,000 donation to BCIT and a $2 million investment from Seaspan to support Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering programs at UBC.
“I love working at the shipyards,” said Camosun College graduate Sara Wilson, an award-winning Red Seal sheet metal tradesperson and employee at Seaspan’s Victoria Shipyard. “These are great jobs and it’s fantastic that Camosun, the college where I discovered my trade, will now educate more women thanks to the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. I will do my part to encourage and welcome them to the trade.”