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April 29, 2009 10:14 AM

Conestoga Gains $784,000 for Skills Training Programs for Women

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Our government is committed to helping women gain the skills they need to achieve economic independence.

With those words, Hon. Deb Matthews, Ontario's Minister Responsible for Womens Issues, announced a grant totaling $784,000 to Conestoga College. $316,500 will go towards the Women in Skilled Trades (WIST) carpentry program at Conestoga's campus in Waterloo; the remainder will go towards Information Technology Training for Women (ITTW) at the Doon campus in Kitchener.

Minister Matthews announced the funding at a special gathering at Conestoga's Waterloo campus, before a gathering of community leaders, as well as current students and graduates of both the WIST and ITTW programs. Both programs, funded by the Ontario Womens Directorate (OWD), have had an outstanding record of success at Conestoga - WIST since 2000 and ITTW since 2001.

Joining Minister Matthews as featured speakers at the event were Conestoga President John Tibbits, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities John Milloy, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Leeanna Pendergast and TV home renovation star Mike Holmes, who proved to be a great hit with the students in attendance.

These programs give women the opportunity to become economically independent and contribute to Ontario's economy, Matthews said. Each woman who participates will benefit from the high-quality, practical education they'll receive from Conestoga. Together with Conestoga, and all our training partners, our government is committed to helping women take advantage of the opportunities in high-demand, non-traditional areas of the economy.

She added that the Conestoga funding is part of a province-wide investment of $3.3 million over the next two years, which will help 264 low-income women in the province better their lives and circumstances through practical technical training.

The WIST carpentry program will provide opportunity to 25 participants, starting in September at Waterloo. The program features 28 weeks of in-college instruction, plus ten weeks of practical, on-the job training. The ITTW program will have openings at Doon for 18 students beginning in June and another 18 starting in September. It is a 42-week program - 32 weeks in-college, plus ten weeks of work experience. Those who successfully complete these programs are ready to pursue employment, apprenticeships or advanced training.

In commenting on the funding, Minister Milloy stated, We must make sure we have the most highly trained workforce possible. To make Ontario the best we can be, we have to reach out to under-represented groups in the economy, to make sure opportunities take place.

President Tibbits added, Investments like this help raise the profile of the skilled trades. The people who benefit from these programs will go forward, make contributions and inspire others to follow.

These two programs are tuition-free to qualifying students, thanks to the OWD funding. Anyone interested in ITTW should call Conestoga in Kitchener at 519-748-5220, ext. 3628. Those interested in WIST carpentry can sign up for a free two-hour information session by calling 519-885-0300, ext. 484 in Waterloo. The sessions will be offered from late April through mid-June.

Contact: Kristen Goetz for WIST (kgoetz@conestogac.on.ca) or Connie Boyd for ITTW (cboyd@conestogac.on.ca)

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