Sheryl Dubois – The Halifax Wire – 6 Jan, 2021

Diana Parks The Halifax Wire
Diana Parks

Seats are still open for 18 to 29-year-olds living in the Halifax area who are seeking a sustainable career.

“We say students need to be 18 to 29, hold high school diploma or GED equivalent of some kind, be coachable and ready to work. No tech background is required,” said Diana Parks, Halifax’s regional director for NPower Canada in a recent telephone interview.

No tech background needed? “None.”

Since 2014, The Junior IT Analyst program offered by NPower Canada and its partners graduated more than 2,500 students living in the Toronto, Ontario and Calgary, Alberta areas, according to Parks. More than four out of five (83 percent) graduates are either employed in the tech industry or moved on to more education. Parks assures the program works.

The program is designed to provide youth with an opportunity to train for jobs that exist, that tend to start at more than minimum wage, are sustainable, and jobs from which a person’s career can grow, explained Parks.

Parks says tech companies need technicians with particular skills – user support, systems administration and network security, for example.

Available for the first time in Atlantic Canada – the cost-free Junior IT Analyst program begins this month and runs for 15 weeks. After that, graduates may opt-in to an alumni program for up to five years.

The second session will begin with a new group of 50 students in May 2021 and a third group in September 2021. Parks said they want to graduate 150 youth from the Halifax area in 2021.

Graduates of the program since 2014 represent a range of youth, particularly “low-income youth who face systemic barriers when seeking work.”

“Approximately 87 percent of graduates – so far – identified as a member of an equity-seeking group,” explained Parks, “including African Canadians, Indigenous people, new Canadians, people with disabilities and people from the LGBTQ community.”

It is important to NPower Canada and its partners to get people who don’t tend to think about a career in tech to consider it. Women in Canada, noted Parks, are underrepresented in tech classrooms and tech workplaces. For Parks, it’s time for women to take advantage of the opportunities in the tech industry.

“We strive for gender parity as much as we can. So far, across the country, about 46 or 47 percent of graduates are women. We want everyone to see themselves in tech,” adds Parks.

WHAT IT TAKES

Applicants require a high school diploma or GED equivalent.

The 15-week, virtual, semester includes learning everything one needs to be a successful junior IT analyst in today’s workplace.

Employing the Google IT support professional program to teach the tech part, NPower Canada assures students will engage with the industry. Students will attend digital workplace tours, listen to speakers from the industry, and take part in digital networking opportunities.

Professional skills are just as important for success, said Parks. Students can look forward to workshops on life skills, resilience and wellness.

“There is a lot to do in 15 weeks,” Parks added. “We say, ‘be ready to work and ready to learn.’”

Visit npowercanada.ca for more information and to apply for a seat in one of the upcoming semesters.

“We strive for gender parity as much as we can. So far, across the country, about 46 or 47 percent of graduates are women. We want everyone to see themselves in tech.”

Diana Parks Halifax regional director for NPower Canada