Banquet Speaker, Liz Cummings
Sponsor Feature: Black & McDonald
Black & McDonald became a Techsploration champion and sponsor near its inception 16 years ago. Providing both financial and in-kind support, Black & McDonald employees volunteer with Techsploration every year as committee members, as guest speakers, and as role models.
At this yearâ€™s 16th Annual Launch, we were fortunate to have Adrian Morrison, Regional Vice President for Black & McDonald, present the keynote address.
â€œOver the course of the next five or six years in Canada we are going to suffer a shortage of about 310,000 skilled personnel in our industry,â€ said Morrison during his speech, â€œWe came to realize that we werenâ€™t going to be able to deal with the skills shortage if we were willing to ignore half the population.â€
A company dedicated to achieving a diverse workforce, Black & McDonald, its management and staff know the statistics and benefits and actively recruit women, and people from different backgrounds groups to fill the wide variety of trade careers available at their workplace.
â€œThe workforce that is retiring doesnâ€™t equal the new numbers coming in.â€ Morrison continued. â€œIn our industry, less than five percent of the workforce is female. That, to us, is a great untapped opportunity. Itâ€™s one of the reasons we continue to support Techsploration.â€
Each year since Black & McDonald became a Techsploration sponsor, female employees have volunteered to be role models and have a Techsploration team visit their workplace and training facilities. Role models from Black & McDonald have included women working in careers such as project management, electricians, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians. Each year, the young women on the Techsploration team have the opportunity to try out each of these trades as well as participate in other activities on-site including welding and pipefitting.
Valerie Langille, a Project Coordinator at Black & McDonald, was asked by Morrison 16 years ago to participate in Techsploration, and she has been back every year since to contribute her time as a role model or an event emcee, and as a member of the Techsploration Program Advisory Committee. She organizes her Techsploration teamâ€™s worksite visit and finds other women employees to participate in the program.
â€œItâ€™s neat to watch the girls come in and say, â€˜I canâ€™t do that,â€ then an hour later, say, â€˜yes, I can,â€™â€ says Langille. â€œItâ€™s rewarding to watch their self-esteem growâ€”itâ€™s what our grade nine girls need.â€
When Langille first began with Techsploration she says she was one of very few women working at Black & McDonald in the trades and finding other women from her workplace to participate was difficult; but that has changed in the past few years as Black & McDonald now has a number of women employees that could be Techsploration role models.
One such woman, Neena Gandhi, Mechanical Engineer, at AMEC Black & McDonald was recently featured in a Women in Action web video. In the two minute video, Gandhi tells us about her career, her current project building subsea pipelines, her challenges, and provides advice to young women who are thinking about exploring a similar career. The video debuted at the Annual Launch, and you can watch itÂ here.
â€œWe continue to be involved in things that work and are good. Techsploration serves a very useful purpose in the construction industry. Getting women into this industry has been and is a long, hard road; but Techsploration plows that road by getting information to young women at a time they need it,â€ says Robert Burns, Business Development Manager. â€œItâ€™s starting to show results as we see young women who were part of Techsploration now working at Black & McDonald.â€
Techsploration isnâ€™t the only organization that benefits from the community commitment of Black & McDonald; they also support Ronald McDonald House, Craigâ€™s Cause Pancreatic Cancer Society, and recently matched all employee contributions to the Cancer Never Waits Campaign at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, raising over $64,000 for this ongoing campaign.
Each year, employees at each of the Atlantic Canadian offices also pick a location and organize an Environment Day. Previously, Black & McDonald employees have cleaned Kiwanis Morris Lake Park, sections of Rails to Trails, and the Miller Lake Scout Camp (they even built them a cabin).
Black & McDonaldÂ is an excellent example of a company that makes a serious commitment to their communities, Techsploration proud to be counted as an organization they believe in, and we thank them for their continued support.Â