Governments and companies small and large had a tough lesson during the pandemic – those who were digitalized had far more opportunity to thrive. The acceleration of digital skills was an important reality for leaders in Canada and around the world.
Digital skills are the key to unlocking opportunity in today’s economy. They are necessary to foster the innovation that is critical to advance Canada’s economic competitiveness, strengthen our communities and create new jobs. But most importantly, digital skills are key to protecting our future. The future workforce needs access to tech skilling opportunities to secure meaningful and sustainable digital careers and succeed in the digital economy.
To accelerate the next generation of leaders into Tech career pathways, we must create a sustained pipeline of talent equipped with skills in AI, cloud and data. In collaboration with TECHNATION Canada, Microsoft recently launched a new program called Explore – which engaged college and university students to participate in a work-integrated experiential learning program to equip them with skills for future careers in technology.
Fifty 1st and 2nd year post-secondary students from STEM or business-related fields across Canada participated in the Explore program, a paid internship with Microsoft, to gain valuable work experience and move closer to becoming job ready.
The 10-week program which was facilitated in partnership with Fast Lane, a Microsoft learning partner, was divided into three phases including:
- Academic Certifications and Interactive Discussions: Students were able to grow their foundational knowledge by acquiring key certifications in Azure Fundamentals, AI Business School, Sustainability and Accessibility. They also learned how these certifications have real-world implications and can help address our most pressing challenges. In addition to Microsoft certifications, students utilized TECHNATION’s LaunchPad to complete at least three modules for further skills development through their Student Ready courses such as Business Writing and Introduction to Project Management.
- Technology Deep Dive and Professional Development: Students learned about the technology of today and possibilities for technology tomorrow and into the future. In addition, students were paired up with mentors to help them prepare for future employment post-graduation by strengthening valuable professional skills such as presenting, advocating for yourself and 1:1 financial education.
- Putting Learning into Action: To wrap the program, students took their newfound skills and applied them practically by taking part in their own ‘Dragon’s Den’-style competition. Students had an opportunity to collaborate with their peers and apply their learnings to a real-life business challenge and present their tool/solution to Microsoft’s leadership team.
“We have a responsibility to provide learning opportunities for the next generation of workers — both to prepare students for the digital economy and to strengthen Canada’s economic future,” Chris Barry, President, Microsoft, Canada. “It is an absolute privilege to host the Explore interns at Microsoft Canada and we’re grateful to work with TECHNATION on this important work. Together, we will help pave the way to a meaningful career in technology for a talented group of students.”
” Today’s students are tomorrow’s tech leaders. One of the most critical issues facing the tech sector is the shortage of talent. It is incredible to partner with Microsoft through our Career Ready Program as they pioneer Explore, the Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) program, enabling students to pursue careers in technology,” Angela Mondou, President & CEO, TECHNATION. “Through the Program, students have access to free resources such as LaunchPad, to help equip students with critical in-demand digital skills, enable them take on roles across the tech industry and succeed.
The first pilot cohort of the Microsoft Explore program just finished, but Microsoft and TECHNATION continue to offer various programs and initiatives to enhance digital equity and literacy across Canada.
For more information on Microsoft’ digital skilling programs visit: aka.ms/learn
To learn more about TECHNATION Canada’s Career Ready Program, visit LINK – https://technationcanada.ca/en/future-workforce-development/career-ready-program/