Canada Skills Program Expanded to Eight Additional Post-Secondary Institutions

Microsoft extends skilling program to eight new institutions across Canada, enabling more students to graduate with in-demand data analytics, AI and cloud certifications

TORONTO – March 23, 2021 – Today, Microsoft Canada announced the addition of eight post-secondary institutions to the Canada Skills Program, bringing the total to 20 schools in six provinces across Canada.

Launched last fall, the program allows students to acquire in-demand cloud, data and AI skills and Microsoft certifications alongside their institutions’ credentials, enhancing their employability as they enter the job market. In the first six months, over 20,000 students have participated.

New data from the Information and Communication Technology Council of Canada (ICTC) found that 50 percent of all information technology (IT) departments of companies surveyed in North America currently identified as either short-staffed or understaffed in ICT roles and the innovation economy is expected to create an additional 149 million new jobs by 2025. For Canada to take advantage of this opportunity, we must address the persistent challenge of the tech talent pipeline.

The Canada Skills Program aims to address this challenge and will support a minimum of 2,000 additional students in diploma, degree and continuing education programs across Canada by enabling them to graduate with in-demand data analytics, AI and cloud certifications.

“Microsoft continues to invest in skilling initiatives because building a talent pipeline equipped with cloud, data and AI skills is key to strengthening Canada’s innovation economy,” said Kevin Peesker, President, Microsoft Canada. “The pandemic has made these needs more acute than ever and expanding the Canada Skills Program means even more students will start their careers with the fundamentals they need to land meaningful work and drive accelerated innovation for Canada.”

The eight post-secondary institutions added to the Canada Skills Program include:

  • New Brunswick Community College (New Brunswick)
  • Georgian College (Ontario)
  • Collège La Cité (Ontario)
  • McMaster University, DeGroote School of Business (Ontario)
  • University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies (Ontario)
  • University of Waterloo (Ontario)
  • LaSalle College Vancouver (British Columbia)
  • Red River College (Manitoba)

This expansion of the Canada Skills Program is the latest in Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to enabling greater access to digital skills and providing students with the tools they need to support the Canadian economy as it emerges from the challenges caused by COVID-19.

Other recent announcements from Microsoft include:

  • a global skilling announcement providing free access to online training tools from Microsoft, LinkedIn and GitHub,
  • a collaboration with the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) to provide scholarships for learners from marginalized communities,
  • free accelerated Azure Fundamentals workshops facilitated through Seneca College, in collaboration with RBC, and
  • Microsoft is partnering with the Digital Technology Supercluster, Npower Canada and Blueprint to provide skills training to unemployed and underemployed youth from communities underrepresented in the digital economy.


 “The University of Waterloo is delighted to collaborate with Microsoft in this program. This collaboration strengthens our ongoing connections with Microsoft and bolsters our country’s ability to match students’ talent and skills with industry opportunities.”

  • Norah McRae, Associate Provost, Co-operative and Experiential Education, University of Waterloo

 “The acceleration of automation and digitalization over the past 12 months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic puts new emphasis on the importance of skills in cloud computing, data analytics, and artificial intelligence, certifications offered by the Canada Skills Program. The partnership between NBCC and Microsoft Canada will equip more people with the skills security to thrive in a changing world of work.”

  • Mary Butler, President and CEO, New Brunswick Community College

“The University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies (SCS) is pleased to work with the Canada Skills Program and Microsoft Canada. It is a collaboration that aligns with our commitment to help meet the challenges faced by our learners associated with a world and workforce that is changing rapidly. At the same time, Microsoft certifications closely complement our own in-demand courses and certificates in the areas of cloud computing, AI, data science, and cyber security. This collaboration will help learners of all ages and career stages to continue to build relevant skills and gain the confidence needed to participate in, adapt to, and provide leadership in the changing, digital workplace for years to come.”

  • Maureen MacDonald, Dean, University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies

“At DeGroote, we are focused on developing leaders who thrive on digital transformation. Our collaboration with Microsoft Canada and the Canada Skills Program will expand our students’ digital skills, particularly in critical areas such as data analytics, AI, and cloud technologies, and help prepare them to drive Canada’s post-pandemic recovery.”

  • Khaled Hassanein, Associate Dean, Graduate Studies and Research, DeGroote School of Business




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