International Day of Education: Invest in People, Prioritize Education
Today, January 24th, marks International Day of Education, marked by UNESCO to celebrate the role of education for peace and development. Inclusive and accessible education is key to breaking cycles of poverty and providing lifelong opportunities for all. This year’s theme is “to invest in people, prioritize education,” a call to action close to NPower Canada.
At NPower Canada, we understand that traditional post-secondary education is not a viable option for all, and we have been committed to providing underserved job-seekers in Canada with digital skills and personal and professional development that will allow them to succeed in the Canadian workforce. As the demand for workforce development strategies such as ours increases due to economic fluctuations, we have been committed to adapting our programs to best serve the needs of Canadians. In the past year, we have broadened our geographic reach, allowing us to now serve job-seekers in five provinces. Due to the pandemic, we also updated our mission statement to expand our age eligibility criteria, now accepting individuals 18+.
Another change brought by the pandemic was the world of education and work in which job-seekers find themselves. While institutions traditionally trained participants in brick-and-mortar settings, preparing them for in-person work opportunities, remote work opportunities are becoming increasingly popular and common in our post-pandemic reality. Like much of the world, in March 2020, NPower Canada closed our physical locations and quickly adapted to offer our programs online. With the belief that it was a temporary measure, we continued to offer our in-person model in a virtual setting, but as time went on, we realized that offering our programs virtually provided new opportunities for us to help even more job-seekers, and best prepare them for the new world of work.
We found that by offering our programs virtually, we were able to further break down barriers and increase access to those who need it most. Individuals living in remote and rural areas had typically been given fewer opportunities to join the tech workforce, unable to access the training or work opportunities concentrated in urban city centers. Now, individuals in these areas, including Indigenous peoples, are able to access quality training and find remote opportunities that allow them to stay in their communities.
Moreover, a virtual model has allowed individuals with child and/or elder care responsibilities the ability to care for a loved one whilst still participating in our program. This has allowed more women and 30+ learners to participate in our programs and advance their own, and their families’, lives.
As we realized that virtual and hybrid programs were here to stay, NPower Canada also took the time to consider our content, approaches, and structure to ensure that we were best preparing our graduates to succeed. Recognizing that work-from-home opportunities increased the demand for soft skills such as critical thinking, resourcefulness, and self-management, we ensured to embed these skills into our programs through the flipped classroom approach. We also integrated new platforms, such as Learning Management System Blackboard, and Articulate 360 to allow participants to better engage in an asynchronous, self-directed environment that mimics their future work environment. Ivana Popadic, Senior Director of Education, Strategy and Operations, and Talitha Pegus, Senior Manager of Employer Engagement, further discuss the changes NPower Canada has made in their article Leveraging digital tools for virtual learning and work environments.
NPower Canada is proud of the changes that we have made in recent years to continue to increase access to education, and today, on International Day of Education, are reminded of the importance of continuing to adapt to create a more inclusive and equitable society.