Making Changes Women In Technology

The Cause

Making Changes is a community of women helping women through life transitions, promoting leadership, belonging and confidence and building skills which encourage participants and volunteers to contribute to the community socially and financially. The Conference Board of Canada indicates that nearly one in five Canadian employees are in occupations at high risk of automation with few or on no options to transition into lower-risk occupations without significant retraining.

Women experience barriers to entry in many emerging technology fields. In addition, immigrant women experience their own unique set of barriers as they transition to life in Canada. Making Changes Association, has designed an integrated skills training program that combines employability skills upgrading, technical training (in the field of full stack web development) and hands-on work experience to produce employment outcomes for unemployed or underemployed immigrant and aboriginal women in Calgary.

The average women working in technology make $30,000/year more on average than women working in other occupations. However only 20% of the technology work force is made up of women. Racialized women earn significantly less than non-racialized women and men.

Offering 2 cohorts per year, each class engages a total of 15 immigrant and aboriginal women as they progress through a six-month, full time, integrated skills development process including:
• 5 weeks of Employment & Life Skills upgrading with Making Changes existing curriculum.
• 18 weeks of technical skills training led by Sozentech Consulting Inc.
• 4 weeks of unpaid on the job work experience with local Calgary employers where the participants can practice their skills.
• 180-day post program employment search support is provided by Making Changes (clothing, one on one life skills coaching and employment search coaching)

The key priority areas addressed by this project:
1) Increasing women’s economic security by reducing barriers for women’s full participation in the labour market.
2) Helping women pivot their current skills and experience into careers of the future.
3) Increasing women in leadership and democratic participation by developing and supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives in a male dominated workplace.

Target Outcomes:
75% of participants graduate
60% of participants are employed in their field of training 180 days after completion of the program
To date 75 % of graduates have obtained employment.

Who Will it Benefit?

Making Changes has been working with immigrant and aboriginal women in Calgary for over 35 years. A powerful combination of employment training and Canadian business dress personal style consulting has helped thousands of newcomers and low income women integrate into Calgary's workforce.
Immigrant and Aboriginal are over-represented in the low income support statistics and in the underemployed/unemployed population in Calgary. In fact, Immigrant women were the hardest hit segment of the population when it comes to COVID-19 and continued employment.
Immigrant women bring many skills and strong passion for both their family and their new communities. Despite their qualifications, skilled immigrants are chronically underemployed, at significant cost to our economy. A 2011 study estimated the increased earnings if newcomers’ skills were compensated appropriately (to their skill level) at $31 billion. The most prominent barriers are a lack of Canadian work experience and recognition of foreign credentials.

Using the integrated skills training framework, the program combines academic and employment focused behavioral skills upgrading with technical training in a growing field for Alberta. In seeking to take these ladies from "enhancing" to "exploring" the program includes; an unpaid work experience period and sustained employment search support.
Work experience placements are arranged for the participants with local employers who do hire, from time to time, candidates with the skill sets that these participants have just completed learning. The work experience postings provide potential employers a means of assessing a prospective employee's ability and capacity to perform the job. For immigrants, they can provide the much-needed Canadian experience that is often requested by employers.
Making Changes experience in delivering Employment and Life Skills training has proven that bringing together a group of women participants, when looking at industries with lower female participation, provide these participants with a safe, mutually supportive environment in which to learn both the behavioral and the technical skills needed to survive and thrive in a male dominated career path.
Those who will benefit from this program are women who are unemployed or in the bracket of low income. They work towards building skills, gain employment, move out of poverty and become contributing members of society, financially stable and support themselves and/or their families.