National ICT industry association receives $1.2M in funding through the Future Skills Centre to define digital competencies and develop new skills training program required to fill talent gap in Canada

Mississauga, ON (April 2, 2019) – The Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) is pleased to announce that, it has been, in partnership with Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute,  selected by Future Skills Centre to test a skills training program with new pathways into digital roles for graduates with non-STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) backgrounds,  for internationally-educated professionals and for high-potential workers without traditional credentials.  This project will be funded ($1.2 million over two years) through the Future Skills Centre.

“There is empirical evidence to suggest that innovative approaches are needed to better define the digital competencies needed to expand the pool of employees,” explains Denise Shortt, acting president and CEO, ITAC and Interim Member of the Future Skills Centre Advisory Board. “While there’s ongoing demand for computer scientists and engineers with deep technical skills, organizations are exploring new approaches to defining digital competencies and create new pathways opportunities. This subsidized program uniquely delivers skills training in a heavily blended approach for digital and professional competencies. “

The overall goal of this program is to build on innovative approaches to developing digital skills. Complementing the wide range of approaches available through post-secondary institutions, private training organizations as well as online programs, the Project will deploy and assess a suite of aptitude testing, online learning, and competency testing tools coupled with community-based training to develop an evidence-based, accessible set of learning opportunities to provide foundational digital skills that industry will recognize for entry-level digital roles.

ITAC has a longstanding collaboration with the Diversity Institute on a number of large-scale multi-stakeholder projects aimed at understanding the intersection between innovation and inclusion, examining the skills gap in Ontario’s ICT sector from an innovation lens in order to identify, test and replicate creative approaches to policies, processes, and technologies that promote inclusion in ICT.

“Years of research have shown that virtually all businesses are now digital businesses. The demand for digital skills crosses every sector – from finance, to retail, to manufacturing, to government. The increased demand for digital skills is widening the skills gap, particularly in terms of demand for engineers and computer scientists,” explained Dr. Wendy Cukier, Director, Diversity Institute, Ryerson University. “Ironically, however, while technologies such as artificial intelligence threaten to disrupt entire industries and transform the future of work, they are also disrupting digital skills as we know them opening opportunities for new pathways to well paid ICT jobs that focus on applying technology to solve business problems.  We do not see the demand for computer scientists and engineers diminishing but we do see new opportunities emerging. This project will be critical in mapping emerging digital skills and exploring innovative and flexible ways to address them. Our experience over the last seven years with the Advanced Digital and Professional Training (ADaPT) program has allowed us to explore new employer centered, just in time, work integrate learning models to bridge the skills gap, for example, helping non-technical people transition into the technical jobs,  upskilling under-employed  newcomers; and transitioning new graduates into the workplace with impressive outcomes. We look forward to working with ITAC and Canadians Learning Code to find ways to adapt, replicate and scale new inclusive approaches to digital skills development.”

“The Future Skills Centre is thrilled to be partnering with ITAC on their ‘Defining Digital Competencies’ skills training project. This project will work towards supporting job seekers in gaining access to new skills and will contribute to a growing base in skills development research,” added Melanie Wright, Interim Executive Director of the Future Skills Centre.

Innovation is changing the way Canadians work. Disruptive technologies provide opportunities and challenges for workers, employers and educators. This two-year project will test new ways to understand and develop skills for the future and to ensure inclusive growth that benefits all Canadians. As noted when the Future Skills Centre announcement went live, ITAC has long called for a near doubling of the growth rate of the highly qualified professional information, communications and technology (ICT) workforce, to expand it from 550,000 in 2018 to 750,000 by 2025.  ITAC also projects accelerating demand for mid-skilled technicians and related professionals – currently 300,000 strong – in the coming years.

“By continuing to work with the diverse range of stakeholders participating in the Future Skills Centre and the Future Skills Council, ITAC and its members – leaders of Canada’s ICT sector –  can promote the importance of employers and industry commitment to the cultivation of talent, and can play an important role in driving Canada’s economic and social development and find real solutions to the challenges that need to be addressed,” added Shortt.

ITAC’s “Defining Digital Competencies” is funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre.


About Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC)

As Canada’s national ICT business association, the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) champions the development of a robust and sustainable digital economy in Canada. A vital connection between business and government, we provide our members with the advocacy, networking and professional development services that help them to thrive nationally and compete globally.

A prominent advocate for the expansion of Canada’s innovative capacity, ITAC encourages technology adoption to capitalize on productivity and performance opportunities across all sectors. A member-driven not-for-profit, ITAC has served as the authoritative national voice of the $170 billion ICT industry for over 60 years. More than 36,000 Canadian ICT firms create and supply goods and services that contribute to a more productive, competitive, and innovative society. The ICT sector generates over one million jobs directly and indirectly and invests $4.9 billion annually in R&D, more than any other private sector performer.

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