Trade school for Caribbean women to open in St. Lucia

Project funded by Canadian government and private donors

Sephton Spence

EnpowHer has been established as the first trade school for Caribbean women in St Lucia. The school, which aims to provide women with opportunities to learn trades and gain hands-on training, is set to open in January 2024. It will offer free training to women from across the Caribbean, with a focus on Canadian standards started by founder Sephton Spence president of Kubbiecon Construction. The training will take place in two cohorts of 50 students each, lasting for four months at a time.

Kubbiecon Construction has 42 employees in Canada, including many women in trades such as electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, and painters, realized that there were very few women in trades in the Caribbean. He also noticed that women in the Caribbean were often limited to roles such as flag-bearers on construction sites. To address this imbalance, he decided to establish a school for women, taught by women.

The trainers and teachers at the school will come from the United States, England, Canada, and other parts of the world, but they will all be originally from the Caribbean. One of the funding partners for the project is the Canadian government, through Global Affairs, and private companies and donors.

EnpowHer has also sent equipment, tools, and supplies to the Paiye Secondary School in St Lucia to support its construction department. The school had only one drill for 14 students, so Spence decided to donate equipment that was no longer in use in his Canadian company along with donations from other companies, including heavy-duty drills from brands like Milwaukee and DeWalt, painting supplies, hand tools, wrenches, drill bits, caulking guns, levels, screws, and personal protective gear like gloves, helmets, goggles, and reflective gear.

Spence’s long-term vision is to provide Caribbean women with the skills they need to fill the worker shortage in both the Caribbean’s and Canada’s trade industries. By offering training to Canadian standards, the women will be able to transfer their skills directly to the Canadian workforce. Spence believes that by empowering Caribbean women with trade skills, he can help to break the cycle of poverty and inequality that has been a persistent challenge in the region.

Julian of KLC and Sephton Spence

The Minister of Education and the personal secretary are excited about the school’s establishment, while the Minister of Labor, Dr. Virginia Poyotte, is ecstatic about St Lucia becoming the home of the first trade school for Caribbean women. The school will provide an opportunity for women to learn trades and gain hands-on experience in a supportive and empowering environment, helping to break down the gender barriers that have long existed in the region’s skill workforce.