Building Careers in a Virtual World

  • Alberta

Through the world-altering pandemic that has impacted our lives over the last year and a half, many organizations have had to remain nimble in adapting to the ever-changing environment — and Women Building Futures (WBF), which delivers hands-on training to women pursuing careers in industrial trades, was no exception.

  • WBF is a not-for-profit organization fostering economic security for women through employment-focused training in the construction, skilled trades, maintenance, oil, gas and driving industries.
  • As women are generally underrepresented in construction and operations in our industry, Inter Pipeline saw alignment with its commitment to diversity and inclusion and the opportunity this partnership provided for women looking to enter the trades and unlock rewarding careers.
  • In 2019, Inter Pipeline committed $580,000 to a partnership with WBF to raise awareness and provide pre-apprenticeship training to women in Alberta’s Heartland area. This training is offered through WBF’s Journeywoman Start program, a 17-week classroom and hands-on pre-apprenticeship training program that introduces students to six different industrial trades.

Practical approach, creative delivery

With the pandemic changing everything, but not the need for these women to get their training, WBF had to get creative and offer their programs online. 

The result? They have been able to safely and successfully offer their program in a virtual environment over the course of the pandemic, graduating 64 students from their pre-apprenticeship program, Journeywoman Start, in Edmonton since March 2020.

“We’re proud to say 23 of these graduates have found rewarding employment on the Inter Pipeline Heartland Petrochemical Complex with various WBF partners. We also have a few experienced graduates working on the project mentoring our recent program graduates and have more than 20 years of graduates working in the industry across Alberta, so there are likely many more!”
Brittany Nugent, Manager, Communications for WBF

New beginnings worth celebrating

For some of the students, this is the first time they have completed or graduated from a training program, so their strong feelings of pride and sense of accomplishment deserved to be recognized and celebrated.

“Graduations are really a symbol of new beginnings for our students. There is always excitement of what the road ahead looks like and the financial stability that comes with a new career. For the staff at Women Building Futures, attending the graduations is a special moment for us. It is a reminder of why what we do is important, hearing the impact our programs have had on our students and seeing our students have the confidence in themselves to know they can do this.”

WBF’s ability to remain agile and find a way to successfully continue their programs and graduations has had a significant impact on the program’s graduates too.

“In addition to financial independence, students often highlight an incredible boost in confidence during our programs. That confidence continues to grow when they’re working on a project with employers who are invested in their success. Graduates have shared they’ve been able to purchase their first home, pay down debt, send their kids to camp, travel and more.”

“Inter Pipeline’s support of our program has offered an immense positive impact for the women we serve, their families and their community. Many women who take our programs are either unemployed or underemployed, so the financial impact and independence they experience once they’re working is truly lifechanging.”
Sheena Nakonechny, Manager of Industry & Alumni Relations from WBF

Hear a few WBF graduates talk about the impact the program has had on their career by watching this WBF video. Learn more about WBF and its program offerings by visiting Women Building Futures’ website.