Helping Unemployed Youth Pursue Careers in Technology

Helping Unemployed Youth Pursue Careers in Technology

AN IMPACT STORY

Connecting young people to good jobs that will help build back a stronger and more resilient Canada.

Less than four months into its three-year mandate, the Canadian Tech Talent Accelerator (CTTA) project is already changing lives for the better.

Led by NPower Canada, this Supercluster project is working to equip under-served Canadian youth with the skills and experience they will need to secure meaningful well-paying jobs in the digital economy. Using educational resources developed in partnership with Microsoft, NPower is delivering a 15-week online skills training and job placement program to 2,500 underrepresented youth ranging from 18 to 29 years old in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Halifax, and launching a new Junior Data Analyst training stream. Within months of launching this project, the Province of BC saw its value and has invested an additional $7 million in the project to triple the number of positions available to BC youth.

“The Digital Technology Supercluster and its industry, academic and government partners continue to lead the development of ground-breaking transformative technologies that people and industry across the globe will be seeking. The B.C. government is grateful to be a part of this pioneering collaboration that benefits our industries and communities and takes us closer to building the innovative, inclusive and sustainable economy that benefits all British Columbians.” – Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, Government of British Columbia

At the same time, both NPower and Microsoft are working with employers to identify the types of junior digital positions that need to be filled quickly and, in turn, align the CTTA curriculum with recruitment efforts. Following the completion of the program, students will earn industry certification and receive support to find a technology-related position that leverages their competencies and skills learned through the program.

“This project is designed to deliver digital job training to underrepresented communities across Canada. This innovative approach will ensure a wider range of Canadians have the necessary skills to match the demands of our growing digital economy,”  said François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

Investment from the Supercluster helped the project chart a more ambitious course by covering program delivery costs for the thousands of young adults who can now enroll at no cost to themselves or their families. Participants come from low-income households and are either unemployed or underemployed in precarious or minimum-wage. They include women, Black, Indigenous and other racialized youth, LGBTQ+ youth, new Canadians and youth with disabilities. These Canadians are at risk of becoming chronically under-employed or unemployed but with the support of the CTTA project and the Supercluster’s investment, these young citizens now have the opportunity to secure ‘jobs of the future’ – today.

“Our mission to reduce poverty in Canada by addressing youth unemployment has been amplified by the pandemic,” says NPower Canada CEO Julia Blackburn. “However, we see a huge opportunity through this accelerator program to deploy rapid skilling solutions that will enable youth to enter meaningful and sustainable careers.”

The program has achieved this goal in impressively short order.

According to Julia, one of the first Toronto-based participants secured a quality assurance role with a software company, and doubled her household income, after earning certifications in SQL, Microsoft Azure and Python for data analysis, cloud and AI scripting.

“She was a newcomer to Canada who quickly emerged as one of the superstars in our program,” Julia recalls. “She had the technical aptitude, but it was her work ethic and empathy for her fellow classmates that really inspired us. Coming from diverse backgrounds and facing similar challenges around lack of access to opportunity, our students really support each other and share an eagerness to learn.”

“We expect at least 2,000 of the young adults enrolled in our programs to successfully complete training and earn industry certifications, with at least 1,600 launching their IT careers by securing tech-related employment or pursuing higher education within 12 months of graduation,” Julia says. “It’s a real win-win: Canadian employers are being provided with a growing pipeline of diverse, custom-trained talent, while young Canadians are pursuing sustainable employment.”

The accelerator project follows the government’s launch of the ‘50-30 Challenge,’ which focuses on increasing representation and inclusion of diverse groups in the workplace.

 

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