March of Dimes Canada's SkillingUp Gets Major Federal Funding Injection

Hon. Kamal Khera announces funding to support over 1,000 learners

TORONTO, Dec. 2, 2023 /CNW/ – Today, the Honourable Kamal Khera, Minister of Diversity, Inclusion, and Persons with Disabilities, on behalf of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, Randy Boissonnault, announced that March of Dimes Canada’s SkillingUp program is receiving a major funding boost from DIGITAL, Canada’s global innovation cluster for digital technologies, to extend the free digital skills program to more than 1,000 people with disabilities in Canada.

Supported by DIGITAL and funded by the Government of Canada’s Skills for Success Program, this investment more than doubles SkillingUp’s current program funding. The new funding will complement investments from Microsoft Canada and CIBC Foundation empowering learners for in-demand jobs of today and tomorrow’s digital economy.

“As we approach International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Government of Canada reaffirms its commitment to ensure that all Canadians can participate in the workforce,” said Kamal Khera, Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities. “Digital talent is needed now more than ever. With this project and the support of over six-hundred thousand dollars from the Government of Canada, March of Dimes Canada is helping persons with disabilities access the necessary training and support that enhance digital skills through skills training, mentorship and career development. Congratulations and thank you to everyone involved, you are helping break down barriers for persons with disabilities and building a more accessible, resilient Canada.”

“We must ensure that persons with disabilities have the equal opportunities to be part of and thrive in the workforce” said MP Michael Coteau. “It is significant that we make this announcement on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The SkillingUp Program offered by March of Dimes Canada is exceptional and is committed to ensuring that persons with disabilities are well equipped with the skills of today and tomorrow. It will provide those that benefit the necessary skills to be best positioned for the digital workforce. The need for people in the digital workforce has never been more important, and the Government of Canada is committed to everyone having the opportunity to be part of it.”

“We’re thrilled to announce this new funding as we celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities,” said Len Baker, March of Dimes Canada’s President and CEO. “We want to ensure that all people with disabilities in Canada are prepared for employment success.” Baker continued, “living in a digital first world means that skilling, upskilling and re-skilling are essential to remaining competitively employable. SkillingUp ensures people with disabilities have access to sector-recognized training and certification to support them on their career journey.”

“Supporting equity and diversity within Canada’s technology sector is crucial to our country’s continued growth and prosperity,” said Sydney Goodfellow, Director of DIGITAL’s talent-focused program, the Digital Learning Lab. “We’re proud to support the SkillingUp initiative and the work of March of Dimes Canada, Microsoft and the CIBC Foundation in helping to create a more inclusive and innovative Canada.”

Since launching just over a year ago, SkillingUp has offered free training to more than 400 learners with disabilities across Canada in beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels of digital skills training in both English and French leveraging Microsoft’s global AI Skills Initiative. There are a wide range of participants, from individuals learning foundational digital literacy skills to tech and tech-enabled workers looking to enhance their skills or obtain advanced Microsoft certifications.  

SkillingUp helps participants level up their digital skills in as little as four weeks. Through March of Dimes Canada’s integrated skills training and mentorships, participants can accelerate their workforce entry or advancement in tech-enabled careers.

“As we embrace the transformative power of emerging technologies, Microsoft must ensure that everyone has the opportunity to thrive in a digital, AI-enabled economy,” says Lisa Everett, Philanthropies Lead at Microsoft Canada. “Digital fluency is becoming a crucial skillset within any role, and sector or industry. As such, through the Microsoft Skills for Jobs program we endeavour to make technology skills accessible to all. Our partnership with March of Dimes Canada reflects our commitment to expanding economic opportunities and empowering individuals of all abilities to reach their full potential.”

“At CIBC we’re creating a culture of inclusion, and accessibility plays a large role in this,” said Sandy Sharman, Group Head, People, Culture and Brand, CIBC, and Co-Chair, CIBC Foundation. “We believe that everyone should have access to opportunities to help achieve their ambitions, which is why removing barriers that get in the way of progress is so important. We’re proud to support March of Dimes Canada and the SkillingUp initiative, which will help remove barriers for the next generation of leaders and changemakers.”

For more information or to register as a participant in SkillingUp, visit  .

About March of Dimes Canada

March of Dimes Canada is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a society inclusive to people of all abilities. Their mission is to provide a wide range of services to individuals with physical disabilities throughout the country. They are committed to enabling people to achieve their goals and improve their quality of life.

SOURCE March of Dimes Canada

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