Fanshawe College in London, Ont., is gearing up to launch a new program in the fall aimed at women interested in following a “technology-related” career path.
During a six-week program, IgniteHER offers various forms of training, mental health support, expert advice, and potential employment opportunities all centred with tech sector organizations.
Established in partnership with the Gender Equity Coalition of Ontario, Fanshawe says the program is offered at no extra cost through federal and provincial government funding.
“We were looking at opportunities to help women who are maybe looking for a change in career, who had been underrepresented, and also definitely feel impacted by COVID-19, to ignite their sort of career path into the tech sector,” said Candace Miller, the director of strategic initiatives and business development at Fanshawe College.
Miller said that because the tech sector is “so broad,” it allows for a lot of flexibility in attracting differing levels of interest.
“Those could be roles in digital marketing, at an entry level, web design, coding, programming and customer service,” Miller said. “Those are considered to be sort of the key areas that we’re looking at when doing this upskilling and training specifically for women.
“That also includes women who identify as women, as well as non-binary individuals.”
Aside from being a free program, she said that IgniteHER differs from other initiatives in multiple ways.
“It provides not only the training, technology, (and) digital sort of skills that are required for entry level careers in tech, but it also gives women an opportunity to have two weeks of mental health and employability development, coaching and support,” Miller said.
“We know that it takes a lot to sort of get back into the workforce or transitioning careers or even taking that next step, and the tech sector is in desperate need of growth,” she continued. “So, we’re really wanting to give women the opportunity to make that transition on their own time, and in sort of their own way. We recognize that they may need some support beyond just technical skills.”
Miller said their target is to have 60 participants split between two cohorts starting Sept. 6.
“We’re looking to engage specifically women who are sort of in the London, Middlesex, St. Thomas and Elgin area, as well as those tech sector employers who are looking for individuals to fill entry-level positions,” she said.
“This really is, by way of its name, IgniteHER is the way we’re providing a pathway for women to ignite their careers in tech.”