Peace River Hydro Partners was at North Peace Secondary on November 7 to announce the creation of a scholarship for female students interested in pursuing a career in construction and trades related fields. Following an interactive info session with more than forty students, a $35,000 cheque was presented to Northern Lights College.
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Peace River Hydro Partners, a joint venture between ACCIONA and Samsung C&T, holds the Main Civil Works Contract on BC Hydro’s Site C Clean Energy Project. On average in Canada, women account for about 5% of construction workers. PRHP has double that at 10%.
The announcement came as the next step in PRHP’s Women in Construction inclusion and equality movement. Kicking off at the Spark Leadership Conference this past May, PRHP has been a strong advocate about the importance of engaging women in the construction industry and giving visibility to women in non-conventional roles. CJDC-TV recently profiled three up and coming women at PRHP: Natasha Smilovic, Dawn Rebelo, and Alison MacMaster. They delivered inspirational speeches, shared their career experiences, and spent quality one-on-one time with the students.
The construction industry is one of the largest employers in Canada, and demand for workers is increasing as a large segment of workers approach retirement. “There are so many women in construction looking to pass down all their knowledge and experience, and willing to mentor newcomers,” said PRHP’s Communications Manager, Jamie Bodnarchuk. “Women make up half of the population, no reason we can’t be 50% of the construction industry,” added Dawn Rebelo. “I hope that one day we are. We can’t wait to welcome the next generation.”
Natasha Smilovic credits mentorship as a key factor in her success, citing the importance of having women in the industry. “You need visibility. You cannot be what you cannot see. Being a woman in construction is something to be truly proud of.” Alison MacMaster is a testament to the growth opportunities mentorship can offer, “building the proper relationships has made things easier for me. It’s what made the difference,” she says.
The scholarship will serve as a legacy to help local Peace region students long after the Site C project has been completed. “The challenge with education is that, although it’s very valuable, it’s not always accessible to everyone,” noted Jamie Bodnarchuk. “Students must invest not only their time, but also some money. We realized we can help with that.”
PRHP worked with Northern Lights College to structure the scholarship in such a way it can carry forward in perpetuity.