Panel Two: Apprenticeship

MODERATOR: Olaf Nielsen, Chair, Trades Development & Special Projects, Camosun College

Olaf Nielsen brings 37 years of experience working with Apprentices and as an Apprentice. After acquiring his Red Seal, Olaf worked as a contractor  for 11 years and directly sponsored numerous apprentices through to journey status. Following his work as a contractor Olaf went onto work for the Provincial Government of British Columbia (BC) as an Apprenticeship Counsellor/Advisor. Working with both employers and apprentices, provided the opportunity to understand the operational and administrative aspects of the Apprenticeship system in BC as well as learning the broader Inter-Provincial system as well. Since leaving that role, he has continued his work with Apprenticeship through his role with a public Post-Secondary trades training provider (Camosun College) as their Trades Development and Special Projects Chair. Olaf has led projects in support of Marine Industry workforce development and continues his passion of contributing to the ongoing success of trades training to meet the demands of industry, apprentices, and training providers.


The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum is a national, not-for-profit organization working with stakeholders in all regions of Canada. They influence pan-Canadian apprenticeship strategies through research, discussion and collaboration – sharing insights across trades, across sectors and across the country – to promote apprenticeship as an effective model for training and education.

Sarah Watts-Rynard has been Executive Director of the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum since October 2010. Her career features government, private sector and non-profit experience, largely focusing on operational and communications roles. Today, she oversees a team working to develop and deliver initiatives in support of Canada’s apprenticeship community. This work includes promoting skilled trades careers, undertaking research to inform evidence-based apprenticeship policy and practice, and connecting stakeholders through events designed to share best practices.

Apprenticeship is a premier example of work-integrated learning, designed around the concept of workplace mentoring and knowledge transfer. As an advocate of the skilled trades, Sarah works to encourage a better understanding of the high-level of competency and skill required by these careers and seeks to underline the value of tradespeople to Canada’s economy.


Dan joined Seaspan in 2013 and is currently the Manager, Talent Management with responsibilities for Talent Acquisition, Apprenticeship Programs, Immigration and Community Outreach across the company. Educated at the University of Portsmouth (UK), the home of the Royal Navy, returning to a marine setting seems full circle for him in playing a part of the regeneration of the Shipbuilding industry on Canada’s West Coast.

Over the last 10 years Dan has worked internationally and in Canada in both external recruitment consulting and internal capacities focusing on various industries.  Having moved to Canada from the UK in 2008 he fully understands – both personally and professionally – the challenges associated of moving talent around the world.   

Seaspan is an association of Canadian companies primarily involved in coastal marine transportation, shipdocking/ship escort, ship repair and shipbuilding services in Western North America.  Much of the need for the development of people stems from the Shipbuilding and Ship Repair businesses based in Vancouver and Victoria including work on significant Federally funded programs including the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS), Victoria In Service Support Contract (VISSC) and the recently completed Frigate Life Extension (FELEX) program. 

As Seaspan fosters and develops the next generation of Canadian Shipbuilders developing home grown talent will play an essential component of the company’s talent strategy.


Lucy Ellen graduated from St. Francis Xavier University with a Diploma in Engineering and continued on to Dalhousie University to obtain undergraduate and graduate degrees in Metallurgical Engineering.

Lucy Ellen has over 20 years of experience working with the public and private sector, providing product development, business advice and training to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the manufacturing, aerospace and construction sectors.  

Engineering, corporate development and academia have been a common thread throughout her professional journey.

Her career has spanned the spectrum of innovation. She worked initially as a researcher, then as an administrator of a product and prototype development facility and, subsequently, served as a member of the Nova Scotia Innovation Corporation leadership team. This work involved the development of a high-performance business incubation environment for accelerating the growth of high technology companies.

Lucy Ellen has spent the past 10 years in a number of academic leadership roles within the community college system.  She leveraged her business and technical background and her ability to build strategic partnerships to support the development of innovative learning environments and pathways for learners of all ages.

Lucy Ellen has served on a number of industry and community boards and has been recognized for her contributions to education and the engineering community.

She is currently serving as Dean for the School of Trades and Technology at Nova Scotia Community College. In her role, she is assisting with the College’s work to develop and improve programs that support key growth sectors ranging from oceans and geomatics to alternative energy and working to enhance applied research and community innovation.


Rod Bianchini, Manager, Apprenticeship Advisors, Industry Training Authority (ITA), has spent the last eight years managing a team of labour relations officers for BC’s Ministry of Labour. Previously he worked as an Apprenticeship Counsellor for the Apprenticeship Branch and prior to that as a Certified Tradesperson in Roofing Damp and Waterproofing. Rod is based in Richmond, BC at the ITA office and reports to Shelley Gray, Director of Customer Experience and Industry Relations.


Marjorie Davison completed her education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (B.A.) and Dalhousie University (M.A.) and is the CEO of the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency and current Chair of the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship. She served previously as the Executive Director, Corporate Policy and Services for the NS Department of Labour and Advanced Education and is the past Director of Apprenticeship Training and Skill Development. In this capacity, she also served on of the Techsploration Board of Directors. Marjorie has a particular interest in youth mental health, making learning more accessible and inclusive and encouraging greater industry and employer involvement in education and training.


Tim Edwards is a Professional Engineer and a Member of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects. He has been working in the marine industry since 1973. Before coming to Canada in 1979, Tim worked at the UK Admiralty (submarines) and Appledore shipyard in North Devon. Tim’s engineering work in support of naval and commercial ships and submarines continued in Canada until 1991 when he was Vice-President of Eyretechnics Limited’s Atlantic Region office in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia – employing 42 engineers, technicians and draftsmen. Later that year, Tim was appointed to manage a Marine R&D Centre at the Technical University of Nova Scotia (now part of Dalhousie University). It was during his 7 years at TUNS that Tim spearheaded the formation of the Nova Scotia Boatbuilders Association (NSBA). In 1998 Tim was appointed Executive Director of the NSBA – a position he still holds today. Tim’s diverse marine business development background, together with his passion for the continuing professionalization and growth of Nova Scotia’s boatbuilding industry, has resulted in strong NSBA membership and an impressive list of initiatives over the past 18 years that are continuing to help promote, train, advise, and represent the sector.


Cyprian Bryon (known as Cippy to friends and co-workers) was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina where he started his career in the Pipefitter Shop at the Charleston Naval Shipyard. After 22 years, Cyprian decided to continue his career at the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, North Carolina where he acted as Facilities Maintenance Officer.  After 12 years, he accepted a position at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard as the Production Resource Shop Superintendent and a year later was assigned as the Deputy Project Superintendent for the Pre-Inactivation Restrictive Availability on the USS Dallas (SSN 700). In 2010, Cyprian took the role of Director of the Nuclear Regional Maintenance Department at the San Diego Detachment of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and was promoted to Executive Director a year later. On January 3, 2015, after 41 years of service with the Department of the Navy, Cyprian retired. Very soon after, he joined Irving Shipbuilding Incorporated in Halifax, Nova Scotia as the  Trades Director where he oversees the training and advancement of the trades workforce.