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Marine People Partnership Report Highlights Strategies for the Long Term Success of Canada’s Shipbuilding Industry


HALIFAX, NS – The Institute for Ocean Research Enterprise (IORE), in partnership with Irving Shipbuilding Inc., released today the results of a Marine People Partnership report intended to inform the development of a sustainable national marine industry workforce.


The Marine People Partnership report addresses the challenges, needs and opportunities for strategic workforce development in the greater marine industry, which includes shipbuilding and ship repair sectors, as well as the companies that directly and indirectly support them.

IORE developed the report with funding received through Irving Shipbuilding’s Value Proposition commitment under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS). NSS is designed to create a future of certainty for Canada’s shipbuilding industry and the companies that support it.

The Marine People Partnership report identifies six priority areas that comprise common challenges to workforce development in the marine industry, nationally, including:

• The history of boom and bust;
• The socialization and normalizing of workforce mobility;
• Social and systemic challenges to attracting talent in skilled trades;
• Developing essential skills, workplace skills and 21st century competencies;
• Developing workforce capability among under represented workers; and,
• Developing management and leadership capability.

In addition to the priority areas, the report also examines issues relating to workforce development in skilled trades and technology roles, in unionized environments, and of professionals.

The report identifies 25 recommendations to address the priority areas including: 

• Improving career literacy among young people and their parents;
• Integrating more 21st century competencies into apprenticeship and technology training;
• Developing more in-house training for customized marine oriented skills and knowledge;
• Engaging unions to help actively build a stronger learning culture; and, 
• Improving the ocean literacy of our young people by building interest, engagement, awareness and knowledge base.

Since being selected in 2011 as Canada’s Combatant Shipbuilder under the NSS, Irving Shipbuilding has undertaken a number of initiatives to develop the workforce responsible for Canada’s future fleet.

The Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence has been established in partnership with the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) to develop academic curriculum and state-of-the-art training facilities for marine industry trades.  

To enhance ocean literacy and awareness of careers in the shipbuilding industry among youth and their parents, the Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence offers shipbuilding summer camps to youth across Nova Scotia in partnership with SuperNOVA at Dalhousie University, and offers school outreach including a shipbuilding activity day in grade six classrooms.  

Irving has established partnerships with industry, union, Government and community organizations to offer education, apprenticeship and career opportunities to underrepresented workers through programs such as Women Unlimited, Pathways to Shipbuilding and the NSCC Centre of Excellence Bursary Program. As identified in the report, women, Aboriginal Canadians, visible minorities and people with disabilities have largely been underrepresented in shipbuilding, and Irving Shipbuilding is working to change that.

Irving has also recruited shipbuilders from the most established global shipbuilding leaders to help mentor, lead and train the Irving Shipbuilding workforce, which is over 95% Canadian workers, in modern shipbuilding techniques and establish Halifax as a shipbuilding centre of excellence, while cultivating domestic talent and experience. Currently, over 1,200 skilled trades and professionals are employed with Irving with that number expected to double during the peak of the NSS project.

The full Marine People Partnership Report is available for download here

Information on Irving Shipbuilding’s workforce development initiatives is available at

 Dr. Sherry Scully
Dr. Sherry Scully releases Marine People Partnership report.



“A strong, sustainable marine industry and workforce puts Canadian shipbuilding at the forefront of innovation and longevity. Our people are our greatest resource and a proper strategy to develop and grow our workforce is critical to ensure Canadians benefit from the good paying, stable jobs created through the National Shipbuilding Strategy. By developing our workforce, we can assure we deliver the best value to Canada.”

Kevin McCoy, President, Irving Shipbuilding Inc

“For young people to become interested in a career in a particular industry, they need to have awareness of it. The National Shipbuilding Strategy will bring predictability and stability to the marine industry and build confidence that this is an industry worth investing in in terms of workforce development and infrastructure.  If there is one great outcome of the NSS, it is elevating the profile of the marine industry and the opportunities within it.” 

Dr. Sherry Scully, Director of Learning and Organizational Development, IORE 

About the Marine People Partnership

The Marine People Partnership (MPP) was established to explore workforce development issues and advise on a national human resource development strategy. Conceived from Irving Shipbuilding’s Value Proposition commitment under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, the objective of the MPP is to propose objective and relevant recommendations aimed at overcoming challenges to developing a highly trained, skilled and available workforce. 

About IORE

Ocean expertise abounds on Canada’s east coast. In Nova Scotia alone, ocean-related activity generates $5 billion in revenue and produces 60,000 jobs – 14 per cent of provincial employment. More than 10 per cent of all researchers in Atlantic Canada are focused on oceans. And an increasing number of private sector companies are discovering new economic opportunities in key ocean-related sectors. The Institute for Ocean Research Enterprise (IORE) exists to align these assets to benefit the region and the marine science and marine technology sectors. By brokering partnerships among industry, universities, government and private institutions, IORE is working to enhance both the competitiveness of ocean industries and our knowledge base.

About Irving Shipbuilding Inc.

Irving Shipbuilding Inc. (ISI) is part of the J.D. Irving, Limited Group of companies which includes operations in Agriculture, Construction & Equipment, Consumer Products, Energy, Food, Forestry & Forestry Products, Retail & Distribution, Transportation & Logistics, and Shipbuilding & Industrial Fabrication. ISI's primary site is Halifax Shipyard, with four other locations in the Maritime Provinces. ISI was selected in 2011 as Canada's Combatant Shipbuilder under the merit-based National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) and is in the early stages of a 30-year military shipbuilding program. To date ISI has awarded over $1 billion in NSS contracts to over 200 Canadian companies creating over 9,000 direct and indirect jobs. 

For more information, please contact:

Sean Lewis
Director, Communications
Irving Shipbuilding Inc
Work: (904) 484-4595, Cell: (902) 240-6964
Twitter: @IrvingShipbuild

Jim Hanlon
Chief Executive Officer
Institute for Ocean Research Enterprise
Work: 902-494-4410
Twitter: @IORE_Canada

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