New UWinnipeg diploma opens tech doors to Aboriginal people
Grace Redhead is practicing her newly acquired skills in web development work as an intern at IDfusion Software, a Winnipeg software company, and she couldn’t be happier. The 22 year old is poised to graduate with a diploma on Saturday, October 16 at 1:00 pm at the Duckworth Centre from the first class of students to take the Aboriginal Information & Communication Technologies Diploma program, following one year of intense, full-time study.
“It feels good, a little scary and exciting at the same time,” said Redhead, who is originally from Shamattawa First Nation, in northern Manitoba, grew up in Alberta and has lived in Winnipeg for the past 5 years. “I’ve always been interested in computers but I was not sure where to start. This diploma has such a variety of courses, I was able to try a bit of everything. For me the best part was web development, with amazing instructor Brent Scott, because it was so hands-on and creative.”
The diploma program was launched one year ago as an initiative by the Information and Communication Technologies Association of Manitoba (ICTAM), to begin closing the techno-gap that currently exists in the province’s workforce. Only 1.2% of those in ICT careers in Manitoba are Metis, First Nation and Inuit people. ICTAM, with support from the Government of Canada and the Manitoba Government, worked with a team of leaders from the ICT industry and the University of Winnipeg to design and implement this rigorous, innovative program.
“I felt very supported at UWinnipeg and the Aboriginal Student Services lounge across the hall from our class was a great place, with lots of resources,” said Redhead. ”My career goal now is to develop a Youth Networking website, which builds on the volunteer work I do with young people.”
Other interesting career options for Aboriginal Information & Communication Technologies grads include junior web programmers, network support technicians and help desk support professionals.
A total of thirteen students will graduate from the first class on October 16. In addition to class work, students spent 4 weeks in a practicum assignment working in ICT positions to gain hands-on experience. The diploma program provides essential skills, business skills and experiential learning situations to ensure Aboriginal students not only graduate but succeed in ICT careers.
It is anticipated a second class will be offered in 2011.
For more information about the Aboriginal Information & Communication Technologies diploma program, call Stevi Dram at 204.982.1168
MEDIA CONTACT:Diane Poulin, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg P: 204.988.7135, E: [email protected]