Government announces $4.5 million funding for SHRC projects

The federal government on Thursday announced an investment of $4.5 million for a series of projects from the Software Human Resource Council (SHRC), all funded under the Sector Council Program.

Seven programs will share this round of funding, including: Canadian IT Awareness Web site ($313,113); Connecting the Community ($386,000); the Development of HR Strategy for Hardware ($99,500); Infrastructure ($1,800,750); Occupational Skills Profile Model (OSPM) Maintenance Model and Communications ($750,000); Certification Feasibility Study ($228,319); and Information Technology Support Associate ($971,507).

The Canadian IT Awareness Web site initiative is geared towards increasing youth recruitment into the IT field through enhancements to a Web site, However, projects that may be of interest to Canadians already in the IT workplace include the Certification Feasibility Study — a project that aims to assess the need for a national recognition process for certification — as well as the Information Technology Support Associate project, which is developing national standards and certification associated with the IT Support Associate.

The Certification Feasibility Study is of particular interest to Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS), an organization representing more than 8,000 IT professionals across the country.

“I would expect that that study will conclude, as our own research has indicated, that there is strong market demand for a recognition system for IT workers,” explained Rick Penton, vice-president at CIPS in Toronto, adding that he expects CIPS’ Information Systems Professional of Canada (I.S.P.) to play a major role in the fulfillment of that recognition system.

CIPS’ members are interested in establishing an IT profession in Canada, Penton said, and in order to achieve that the group has identified a number of things to put in place.

“We already have, as I mentioned, the ISP designation,” he said. “We have an accreditation program that accredits computer science and community college programs across the country. But we…need to identify a framework for a body of knowledge that can be used to acknowledge alternate paths into the profession and standards of practice. We’re hoping that that might follow from the conclusions of that study.”

According to a statement issued by the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development on Thursday, as mentioned in the 2004 Speech from the Throne, the Canadian government is “committed to refine and enhance its programs to encourage skills upgrading, in concert with Sector Councils, unions and businesses.”

The Sector Council Program was awarded approximately $37 million for 31 projects by Minister of Human Resources Joe Volpe earlier this week. Sector Councils are organizations comprised of labour, business and educational stakeholders in certain industries, enabling them to communicate about skills and human resources issues. There is currently a total of 29 sector councils, covering industries such as mining, textiles and biotechnology.

The Infrastructure project, which was awarded the highest amount of funding of all the SHRC projects, will provide the sector council with “stable operating funds allowing it to focus on responding to skills needs, representing the collective interest of industry partners, developing linkages with the educational system and being results-based,” according to the statement.

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