Nova Scotia’s construction industry is digging into new technology to be more competitive with a $212,475 investment from the province. “Government is pleased to invest in the future of the construction industry, as it finds better ways of doing business,” said Lenore Zann, MLA for Truro-Bible Hill, on behalf of Marilyn More, Minister of Labour and Advanced Education. “The industry is embracing the idea that they need to adapt to compete and attract skilled workers, especially in a business that tends to rely more heavily on a younger demographic to do the work.” The funding supports the industry-led Functional Information Technology (FIT) Project. The Nova Scotia Construction Sector Council is leading the initiative, which explores how new technology can make information sharing easier. “This project is really about identifying innovative ways to manage information and human resources,” said council executive director Trent Soholt. “It is helping industry meet the growing demands for safety, productivity, quality and resource management, and we feel this is just the beginning.” On average, foremen and supervisors spend 30 per cent of their time on paperwork. By reducing the time it takes to relay information, through methods such as a virtual plan review, time accounting, material tracking, records management or safety information, more work can be done in areas such as coaching and mentoring workers. “As a company constantly looking for ways to improve our operations and service to our customers, this project allowed us to explore new technologies, test them on our job sites and determine if they can yield results,” said Chris Curtis with Atlantica Mechanical Contractors Inc. “It removed the guesswork and the risk for us when buying new technologies.” The $212,475 provincial funding for the FIT project comes from the labour market partnership and the strategic training and transition fund. The federal government is contributing $97,586 and the construction industry is investing $215,000. The next phase of FIT will train construction workers how to use the new technologies. The provincial investment is part of the jobsHere workforce strategy to help Nova Scotians adapt and thrive during changing needs in the workforce. For more information on the strategy, go to www.careers.novascotia.ca.
Tamil women who survived Sri Lanka’s civil war now face widespread sexual exploitation by officials in their own community as well as from the army, the head of an ethnic reconciliation body said Wednesday, the AFP news agency reported.Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, the chairman of the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation, said women who were widowed during the 37-year conflict were among the victims of abuse by officials who frequently demand sexual favours just to carry out routine paperwork. Kumaratunga, who lost an eye in a Tamil Tiger suicide bombing when she was president at the height of the conflict, said the best way to make women less vulnerable was to improve their livelihoods. “We feel that when women have livelihoods, they will be empowered… they feel safer and they don’t have to be exploited,” she said. Kumaratunga said many women had been traumatised as a result of the sexual abuse and needed psychological support but the authorities lacked qualified experts to treat them. “We cannot bring counsellors from abroad because they won’t know the language,” she said.Many women, particularly widows, have struggled in the war’s aftermath to obtain identity papers and birth certificates which are essential to obtain government handouts and other aid. “There is a lot of sexual abuse still going on by officials, even Tamil officials and even at lower levels, the grama sevakas (village officials),” she told Sri Lanka’s Foreign Correspondents’ Association. “Even to sign a document, they abuse the women and of course some people in the (armed) forces” continue to commit sexual abuse, she said. Prosecutions of military personnel or officials for sex crimes are rare in Sri Lanka, although four soldiers were jailed for 25 years for the gang-rape of a young Tamil mother in 2010, a year after the war ended. read more