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Alberta Government grant to support job training for women in IT sector

Momentum, in conjunction with Amazon Web Services and Chic Geek, will be launching re/START, an IT and cloud computing skills development program in May.

The provincial pilot program, which begins on May 2, has been designed to meet the critical need for increased employment participation by women in the information technology sector.

re/START has been previously offered through continuing education at Mount Royal University, and through the FDM Group in Ontario, but never just for female students.

Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides announced the Momentum program would be funded by a $1.9 million grant from the province.

“The reason that momentum develop is innovative first of its kind program in partnership with Amazon Web Services and Chic Geek was to help close the workforce participation gap for women both financially and occupationally,” said Donna McBride, director of operations for Momentum.

“Women are vastly outnumbered in the tech industry and that hasn’t changed over the last decade—and from a macro economics point of view, it’s estimated that women’s lack of financial empowerment costs the economy approximately 10 per cent of GDP in advanced economies,” she said.

The program will offer 39 Women, 20 weeks of hands on technical training from Amazon Web Services through a flexible learning environment that includes a monthly stipend for living and child support.

Graduates from the program will be granted an industry recognized AWS cloud IT certificate.

The application process for the re/START program is open now.

Foundation for economic success

The Government of Alberta believes that grants like these will provide the foundations for future economic success stories in the province.

Speaking to a recent $4.3 billion AWS announcement made in November of last year, Minister Nicolaides said that investments like these have presented unique opportunities for economic growth in Alberta.

"The foundation has been laid for Calgary to become a destination of choice for investment and growth in our tech sector," he said.

"The fact is, while there has been a boom in tech, only 26 per cent of tech jobs are currently held by women."

The Minister identified some the barriers to increased workforce participation, including lack of mentors, lack of female role models in industry, and gender bias in the workplace that presents unequal career growth opportunities to women.

Coral Kennett, educational leader for AWS Canada, said that the re/START program connects over 90 per cent of graduates with interview opportunities.

"We are really excited about our growing presence in Alberta," she said.