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Financial burden banished for students of Momentum's new IT support program


Momentum is using a new model for students of its IT Support Specialist Training Program: learn now, pay later.

"It's called an income-share agreement and we have skin in the game," said Jeff Loomis, Momentum's executive director.

"We believe we're the first non-profit in Canada to launch a tech training program using this new model where the participant will pay the majority of their tuition after they get a job."

The 20-week-long course begins in June 2023 and will cost students $500 to sign up.

Loomis says Momentum started hosting its Tech Plus programs in 2018 and that they were mostly government subsidized.

He was looking for a model that would thrive without that support and found examples in the United States and Australia.

"The track record of our previous tech training program gives us the confidence that we can offer a program where the majority of the tuition is paid for after someone's employed," he said.

"Because in our previous tech training programs, over 80 per cent of the learners were employed in the field of technology."

The course has three elements, according to Loomis.

"One is everyone does workplace essential skill training so they're kind of ready for the job," he said.

"Two, they do industry-recognized certifications so they are recognized by industry and then three is they do have work experience and so that valuable eight weeks of work experience really sets someone up to be successful after graduating from the program."

Ramon Ico graduated from one of Momentum's first Tech Plus courses in 2018 and now works with ATB Financial as an SAP solution manager analyst.

He came back to Momentum to help shape the new course as a focus group member.

Ico remembers the financial challenges he faced five years ago.

"I was at a point where I was like, 'What can I do to really fund my education?'" he said.

"Having this opportunity, even with this low fee upfront, I would take that opportunity any time. I think it's a huge opportunity for somebody that wants retraining or wants an opportunity in IT."

Tammy Ward, ATB Financial's managing director of team member collaboration and enablement, has hired a number of graduates from the Momentum programs and says in many cases, they come with added real-world experience learned through other career paths.

Ward recognizes how expensive it can be to learn in the tech sector.

"Especially if you happen to be someone who's new to the province or you haven't been in the university systems before, it's quite expensive," she said.

"It's difficult to do without either having a full-time job almost while you're going through school, having parents who can afford the whole thing or having student loans and scholarships, so I think this (new Momentum program) opens it up."

Momentum's goal is to see the local economy work better for everyone and it's focused on working with people to get better jobs, start a business or better manage and save their money.

Ward says the graduates are a good fit with ATB Financial.

"We're a financial institution and we really care about the community and helping the underserved people gain financial literacy," she said.

"Momentum is really getting at the root cause of some of this and helping with that and tech is a huge part of how we do business and so having this kind of marriage ... we're giving back in that financial literacy but we're also gaining from what they're teaching people."

You can learn more about the IT Support Specialist Training Program at Top Stories

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