NPower Canada programs provide participants with free in-demand digital and professional skills training, and connects them to new and rewarding career opportunities with some of Canada’s largest employers.
Through consultation with a wide range of employers, NPower Canada’s comprehensive curriculum ensures participants are equipped with the in-demand technical and professional skills most sought after by industry.
NPower Canada provides employers with access to a pipeline of eager, diverse and job-ready talent with in-demand digital skills who are primed to succeed in the workplace. Graduates receive ongoing support and coaching to ensure continued success in their careers.
Tech Talent Canada sat down with Derek Darch, NPower Canada’s Senior Director of Employer Engagement, to learn more about the program.
How has the tech landscape in Canada changed over the past year?
DD: Despite recent layoffs in the tech sector, we still find that there are still a number of vacant tech roles, but employers may not know where to find tech talent outside more traditional pathways. Many of the individuals we serve do not have a traditional tech background or Canadian experience, but have valuable lived experience that contribute to diversity of thought in the workplace. Their lived experience combined with NPower Canada’s technical training and professional development enables us to cultivate a diverse pipeline of eager tech talent, and bridge job seekers and employers for a stronger economy.
We now see businesses rapidly adopting digital channels for customer interactions and embracing the use of advanced technologies in business decision-making. Technology as cloud services, next-generation security, AI, Robotics, and AR/VR are growing and evolving into more sophisticated segments. The use of data is also rapidly evolving as innovation and business strategy and decision making has accelerated.
What can those looking to enter the tech space do to make sure they are an attractive hire?
DD: Tech is a constantly evolving industry which means that often the skills we learn today won’t necessarily be relevant in a few years. This means that talent must continue to learn, grow and be excited about new technologies. By adopting a growth mindset and continuously learning, you are equipping yourself to be competitive now and in the future.
The rapid pace of evolution in the tech sector is also why we offer three-month programs that offer our participants microcredentials, so that the skills that they learn in the program remain relevant when they enter the workforce.
How have you adapted your programs to fit the changing market?
DD: Currently we are continuing to offer our programs remotely to participants, this allows us to reach more individuals from a virtual model in a way that allows more Canadians access to our services. We have also adapted our program model to reflect a blended learning approach, where we have synchronous learning (live sessions four days a week where learners can participate in workshops in real time) and an asynchronous learning day (once a week self directed learning completed independently by the learner).
How has what tech companies are looking for when it comes to talent changed?
DD: Tech organizations are looking for talent who can thrive in the digital workplace. While those skills continue to evolve, employers are mainly looking for a strong balance between technical skills and soft skills. The soft skills that are key to working in a digital environment have evolved and transformed. For example, communication skills and the ability to build relationships solely through virtual platforms has become a key to working together.
What advantage do you find your grads have when it comes to securing work and furthering their career path?
DD: NPower Canada provides participants with in demand technical skills and an industry recognized certification, we also have a focus on professional development and equipping each graduate with skills that will support them in excelling in employment. Additionally, NPower Canada provides alumni with five years post program support which includes job search support, mock interview practice, in addition to alumni education programs to help our alumni upskill.
We have also heard from our employer partners that when they see a resume with NPower Canada, they can trust the caliber and quality of the individual applying. Through proven success over a number of years, the NPower Canada name has become a trusted mark of talent.
What are the most important skills for working in the tech industry?
DD: The ability to learn and be adaptable as well as strong problem solving and critical thinking are top skills that are important in the tech industry and a skill our employers and industry council members are highlighting. In NPower Canada’s workshops, we provide our participants with opportunities to practically apply these skills and make connections to the workplace.
Communication would also be a priority, especially with shifts in the pandemic to a virtual model. In the post-pandemic world of work, every company is a tech company, which means that we are now preparing our participants for a diverse range of roles in a number of industries. Due to increased automation and digitization, the most important skills for working in the tech industry change on a month-to-month basis, which is why we work closely with employers and industry partners to monitor trends and continue to adapt our programs so that our graduates are equipped with in-demand skills.
Why do you think tech is still one of the fastest growing industries despite some of the recent shifts?
DD: Technology is constantly evolving which means that the roles and talent required must also evolve and grow. As we further innovate and develop even more sophisticated technology we may see that certain technological jobs may no longer be relevant but they will be replaced by roles that support the technologies of the future. We are constantly exploring the ways that tech can integrate, innovate and improve life. That exploration has created organizations and industries that didn’t exist a few years ago.
Why is diversity and working with students from a non-traditional background so important to NPower Canada?
DD: At NPower Canada, we believe that everyone – from any cultural ethnicity, gender, or socio-economic background – should have the opportunity to succeed in our digital economy and make a meaningful change in their lives. Individuals from underserved groups or non-traditional backgrounds are just as motivated and hardworking, but lack the access to resources required to enter and be successful in the tech workforce.
We also understand that everyone from any background, education, or life experience can positively contribute to our country. Diverse talent brings innovation, experience and passion that improves society as a whole, as we empower more and more of Canada’s underrepresented groups, we see the incredible impact they are able to achieve for themselves and their communities.