By Elka Walsh, National Education and Skills Lead for Microsoft Canada
Overcoming the digital skills gap and recruiting talent continue to be pressing challenges for organizations across Canada, and the world. The future of work relies on people with digital literacy and arming students with the technical skills they need is critical for Canada to lead in a digital-first world. To combat this, Microsoft is collaborating with Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), HCL Technologies Canada, and Sobeys, to launch the next generation of the Canada Skills Program. This program aims to inspire future generations to expand their technical skills by equipping them with accessible digital skilling opportunities at no cost.
The Canada Skills program, which kicked-off in September 2020, has helped over 30,000 students in diploma, degree and continuing education programs achieve valuable Microsoft Certifications in cloud, data, and AI alongside their institutions’ credentials. The program started with 12 schools and has now grown to more than 20 post-secondary institutions spanning six provinces.
This next iteration of the program will bring skilling opportunities across Canada – helping more than 1,600 students graduate with in-demand AI, data engineering, cybersecurity and cloud skills. This would not be possible without support from RBC, HCL Technologies Canada, and Sobeys who will offer a range of Micro-credential projects, technical, and career mentorship opportunities to help students further their careers and enhance their skills through the program.
Below our partners speak to the importance of this work and what it means to their organizations:
“When people think of the future of work, and what it takes to be successful, digital literacy is paramount to individuals reaching their full potential,” said Mark Beckles, Vice-President, Social Impact and Innovation at RBC. “Coming together with Microsoft, RBC, HCL, and Sobeys proves the importance of creating and expanding access to these skills for young people across the country and delivering on our commitment to the digital first future.”
“We are excited to collaborate with Microsoft on this Canada Skills Program and we are confident that students from the region will immensely benefit from the same,” said Joelien Jose, Executive Vice President & Country Head at HCL Technologies Canada. “Canada is a strategic market for us and capability building initiatives like these will help us scale our efforts to develop a robust skilled talent ecosystem. I recommend that more students take advantage of this Digital Skilling opportunity, upskill themselves and get ahead with progressive careers in Technology.”
“Through this partnership we are providing opportunities for students to participate in Canada’s digital economy in a way that builds capacity across the country with positive outcomes at the community level,” said Bruce Burrows, SVP, Chief Information Office, Sobeys. “Investing in education has been a long-standing part of our commitment to community development. And this is why we are investing in the next generation of cyber security professionals through security micro credential, mentoring and projects that will increase their marketability and position them for the vast opportunities in the digital workplace.”
The eight post-secondary institutions participating in this phase of the Canada Skills Program include University of Victoria (British Columbia), Red Deer College (Alberta), Saskatchewan Polytechnic (Saskatchewan), Seneca College (Ontario), Humber College (Ontario), New Brunswick Community College (New Brunswick) Nova Scotia Community (Nova Scotia), University of Calgary (Alberta). The impact of skilling initiatives like the Canada Skills Program are best expressed though the voices of the students who have participated in the program.
Sasan Taghadosi was a student at University of Calgary Continuing Education who recently completed his AI-900, Azure Data Fundamentals Certification and is now working at Royal Bank of Canada as a Senior Data Quality Analyst. Sasan shared that “The Azure Fundamentals Certification was very relevant and helped equip me with the right skills and information to pursue a career in technical data-related field. I was able to achieve a perfect score of 1000 on my first try which was made possible through the hands-on lab demos explained by Dr. Vui K, Microsoft Learn learning path, and practice tests. Having transitioned into a new career path during my MBA, I developed an interest in data fields and this program has everything you need to know about two of the largest industries including Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence. Taking this AI Azure program has equipped me with the skills that have helped me excel in my current position at RBC as a Senior Data Quality Analyst and I look forward to leveraging my knowledge as I evolve my career in a data-driven field”.
The next evolution of the Canada Skills Program will empower more Canadians like Sasan to participate in the digital economy and build essential skills to succeed in the future workforce. Students from participating post-secondary institutions can register now to gain certification in Microsoft Azure Fundamentals by visiting the links below:
- University of Victoria (British Columbia): Click here for program details.
- Red Deer College (Alberta): Click here for MSFT Security, Compliance and Identity program and here Azure Data Fundamentals
- Saskatchewan Polytechnic (Saskatchewan): Click here for program details.
- Seneca College (Ontario): Click here for program details
- New Brunswick Community College (New Brunswick): Click here for program details
- Nova Scotia Community College (Nova Scotia): Click here for Microsoft Azure AI Fundamentals here for Microsoft Azure Fundamentals and here for Power Platform Fundamentals
- Humber College (Ontario)
- University of Calgary (Alberta) Microsoft Azure Fundamentals