Movers & Shakers TWENTY11: Irene Lewis, SAIT Polytechnic

Preparing the workforce of tomorrow

One of Canada's 100 Most Powerful Women for 2010, Irene Lewis, president and chief executive officer of SAIT Polytechnic, has been making an impact in the construction industry since she joined SAIT in 1998.

She was instrumental in bringing the International WorldSkills competition to Calgary in 2009, helping to create interest in the trades among young Albertans. She's also driving several projects at SAIT that promise to bear great dividends for the industry-notably a $400-million Trades and Technology Complex and a new bachelor's degree in construction project management that SAIT began offering in fall 2011. SAIT's Applied Research and Innovation Services department is also involved in identifying and developing green building technologies.

"The construction industry is a key driver of our economy, and SAIT is dedicated to providing the skilled workforce the industry needs to continue enhancing Alberta's prosperity," Lewis says. "Beyond that, we strongly believe in construction as a rewarding and challenging career path, and we want to encourage more young people to consider it as a first-choice option."

Programs related to the construction industry at SAIT are Gold Seal accredited, including the new B.Sc. in construction project management. "We provide opportunities for employees and employers to raise their levels of expertise and be recognized for their competence, and we encourage our students to be proud of their skills and their craftsmanship," Lewis says.

Known for her ability to build relationships, Lewis has drawn closer ties between SAIT, students and industry. Industry partners work with SAIT as advisors to programs and were integral to the development of the new construction management degree.

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