The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) today announced a three-year investment of over $6.5 million for the Hamilton Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA Hamilton) to address critical labour gaps in fields including digital technology and advanced manufacturing.
“We know that women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. In the Hamilton area, job losses due to COVID-19 were three times higher for women than men. We have worked hard to help women succeed since the COVID-19 outbreak began – thanks in part to investments by the WES Ecosystem Fund, which allowed us to create programs that helped women pivot their businesses to operate online. Now, this new $6.4 million investment will not only help women to advance in their careers and receive high-skills training, but it will also help even the playing field in high-tech industries where many women are often left behind,” Denise Christopherson, chief executive officer of YWCA Hamilton, said in a statement.
This funding will be used by the YWCA Hamilton to provide training and support to over 500 women to develop new, in-demand skills and aid their transition into high-skill jobs in sectors where women are traditionally underrepresented, particularly in the advanced manufacturing and specialized technology sectors. The first cohort of the program will launch in early 2021.
In addition to the reskilling programming, the YWCA Hamilton will work with the YWCA Canada and industry partners to launch the Curated Pathways to Innovation digital application, which will offer free personalized learning pathways and resources to 250 women across southern Ontario. The program is meant to help them acquire the skills to compete for positions in technology fields and other skills trades, FedDev Ontario said.
Focusing initially on the Hamilton Region ecosystem, this project will be gradually expanded across Southern Ontario in association with other local YWCAs throughout the GTA, London/St. Thomas, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Ottawa, and eastern Ontario, as well as other women-focused industry partners. FedDev Ontario says this project will support and accelerate 255 women into STEM-based, well-paying careers.
Since November 2015, FedDev Ontario says it has invested in 297 women-led businesses, totalling over $207.7 million in commitments for southern Ontario.