IDRF program to provide under-represented women in Western Canada with high-tech skills
TORONTO, March 11th, 2022 – The International Development and Relief Foundation (IDRF) today announced that it is expanding its highly successful “Women in Tech” training program to Alberta. This initiative, which trains young women to work as full-stack developers, will now support youth in Calgary and Edmonton, thanks to the generous support from The Rideau Hall Foundation’s Catapult Canada Access Innovation Fund.
In 2018, IDRF created Women in Tech for young women in Toronto either living in poverty or at risk of doing so due to a lack of employable skills. In order to eliminate some of the socio-economic barriers associated with the high cost of tech education, IDRF delivers the program free of charge through an annual grant from The United Way of Greater Toronto under its Inclusive Employment initiative.
Since the program’s inception in Toronto 100 young women have learned introductory computer coding skills and another 22 have graduated from a web development bootcamp. The program has a 100% rate of employment and most participants have secured full-time positions in tech as web developers within 90 days of graduating.
According to Women in Tech’s Program Director Elyas Burney, there is a massive gender gap in the technology sector with women comprising just 20% of the workforce. In addition, he notes there is a high percentage of young women, particularly those from BIPOC and new immigrant communities, who are not represented in one of the world’s most influential industries.
“Technology skills are in high demand across Canada, yet in some regions like Alberta we still have high rates of unemployment, in part due to COVID-19,” says Mr. Burney. “Women in Tech provides young women with the coding skills to work as web developers, raises the participation level of women in the sector and builds future leaders.”
The “Women in Tech – Alberta” program will launch this spring, and IDRF is inviting local community groups in Calgary and Edmonton to help promote the program and encourage young women to apply. Priority will be given to candidates facing challenges to accessing full-time/permanent employment, unemployed or underemployed individuals, and those without the financial resources to access tech education.
“We are excited about the expansion of Women in Tech to Alberta, which would not have been possible this year without the generous support of the Rideau Hall Foundation’s Catapult Canada Access Innovation Fund,” said Zeina Osman, Director of Giving & Impact at IDRF. “We are also grateful for the ongoing support we have received from the United Way of Greater Toronto. The generous support of both these organizations will help us make a significant difference in the lives of many young women in Ontario and Alberta.”
Young women interested in learning more about the Women in Tech program in Toronto, Calgary, and Edmonton, can do so by visiting the Women in Tech Webpage.