UCN Information Technology Project Trains Indigenous Women for Technology Careers

May 13, 2022

(The Pas/Thompson, MB) – University College of the North’s (UCN) information technology (IT) project received additional funding from Future Skills Centre to continue operation through the 2022‐2023 academic year. Future Skills Centre is investing $1.09 million to expand and modify this project following an earlier investment of $996,300. The program aims to lessen the digital and economic divide for Indigenous women in the North.

UCN launched the first‐of‐its‐kind IT training for women in Northern Manitoba in September 2021. The Information Technology Readiness North (InTeRN) program is a research‐based pilot project that works to address gaps and barriers preventing northern women from entering IT jobs.

“The Future Skills Centre is committed to accelerating innovative practices in skills development in order to help the squeeze many industries are feeling across Canada,” said Pedro Barata, Executive Director, Future Skills Centre. “These project partners have demonstrated a drive to test, learn and find promising approaches that will help workers, employers and industries adapt and thrive in the economy of the future.”

More than 20 Indigenous women have been involved in introductory IT entry level training with seven of those proceeding into the full‐time Information Technology Readiness North (InTeRN) program at UCN. “It was amazing to watch the transformation of the women in the program. They started as casual technology users and are leaving with skills like understanding and working with circuit boards in a computer,” said Tara Manych, Innovation Consultant. “The support for each other in the all‐female group shows there is a place for women in this male dominated field.”

The ‘Sweetgrass” (decolonization and culturally appropriate control of the IT training) component of InTeRN has proven critical to keeping the students engaged. Students balanced full‐time education challenges with maintaining important family and community obligations through a pandemic. More than simply testing whether the students can be successful in an IT program, InTeRN has demonstrated success in creating a learning community where the students are responsible for their learning, their classroom, and each other. These experiences of the initial InTeRN program have demonstrated the potential for work‐integrated‐learning‐centric programming to engage and retain northern learners. The additional FSC funding will enable UCN to expand this model of education and training into other work‐force sectors.

University College of the North provides learning opportunities to northern communities while respecting diverse Indigenous and northern values.

CONTACT: Monte Koshel
UCN Director of Marketing, Communications & Recruitment
communications@ucn.ca | 204.627.8244

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