New Emily Carr University Program Trains Immigrant and Refugee Women in Tech

Image: Emily Carr University.

Image: Emily Carr University.

The following is partially excerpted from a release circulated by Emily Carr University.

Immigrant and refugee women new to Canada are being offered the chance to break in to Vancouver’s booming technology industry, thanks to TechWomen — a newly launched initiative spearheaded by Emily Carr University of Art + Design (ECU) and the Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC). Launched in April 2018, TechWomen is the first free pre-employment program of its kind, providing free educational opportunities and career coaching to immigrant women seeking employment in the technology sector.

The program is funded by the Canadian Women’s Foundation and Startland, an initiative developed in 2016 by Kate Armstrong. Founded in order to offer free training for refugees looking to find meaningful and sustainable work in Vancouver, the initiative has raised more than $500,000 in the last three years to help those new to Canada find employment within Vancouver’s growing technology industry.

“It is an immense privilege to play a small part in helping to prepare and launch these incredibly bright, capable, and ambitious women into their new lives and careers in Vancouver,” says Armstrong. “Many of the women in ECU’s program trained in the technology sector in their home countries, and were designers, coders, and teachers before moving to Canada. By offering them the opportunity to network with other like-minded women and gain critical skills for achieving employment specific to Canada, we are not just setting them up for success — we are investing in the enrichment of their lives, their families, and their communities, which in turn only enriches the economic vitality and creative energy of our own city.”

Through its partnership with ISSofBC, TechWomen connects women who are new residents to Canada to education opportunities, by providing seats in a selection of courses offered by ECU’s Continuing Studies department. Participants are able to attend courses for free, such as Adobe basics, web design, industrial design, architectural design, and more, enhancing their resumes and skill sets for the Vancouver market. As part of the program, students are encouraged to gain work experience through short-term projects, such as the development of their own online portfolios as well as assisting with the website maintenance of organizations such as VAST, B.C.’s largest centre for refugee mental health.

“This program is providing lasting, meaningful opportunities for its participants, not only through skills development but through confidence building and professional networking,” says Sarah Rolling, ISSofBC’s program facilitator for TechWomen. “And for a job sector that is eager for skilled workers to help meet its ever-expanding needs, this is a win-win situation for all parties involved.”

TechWomen is currently accepting applicants for its next cohort of students, for April 2019. For more information, contact Sarah Rolling at sarah.rolling@issbc.org.

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