Ontario investment boosts women in IT

Financial independence is a key goal of an ongoing investment byOntario’s provincial government in information technology trainingfor low-income women.

The IT training has been provided over the last three-and-a-halfyears by an initial investment of $1.7 million with an additional$2.7 million to be delivered over the next two years.

Currently offered at Conestoga College in Kitchener, the programwill expand to the Community MicroSkills Development Centres inEtobicoke and Scarborough this fall.

The Information Technology Training for Women program is part oftwo initiatives under the Women’s Directorate, according to the MinisterResponsible for Women’s Issues, Sandra Pupatello.

“The sectors the programs focus on are those where there’s a skills shortage, where training is availableand jobs are well paid,” said Pupatello. “One of those significantareas for us is technology which is a constant growing field wherethere’s always a shortage and opportunity to actually get trainerswho can do it.”

Lynda Leonard, senior vice president of the InformationTechnology Association of Canada (ITAC) agrees with Pupatello thatthere is a definite shortage of qualified workers in the ITfield.

“From our perspective there’s been the perception since thedot-com bubble burst the industry didn’t need people anymore andthat’s just not true,” said Leonard. “ITAC is concerned in the decline in women enrolling in computer science and engineeringwhere there has never been a strong representation of women tobegin with.”

The more women that ITAC can encourage to enter into the fieldthe better, she said.

Approximately 200 women have graduated from the program, withabout 73 per cent finding IT related employment after graduation,according to Kay Blair, executive director of the CommunityMicroSkills Development Centre