An NGO, NPower which offers free tech training for unemployed young people is setting up shop in Calgary, Canada. The training program – which application is still open – is supported in part by a grant from the city’s $100-million economic development fund, Concise News reports.
NPower Canada — which was established in Toronto in 2014 and has since graduated more than 1,000 young people from its skills training program — will welcome 35 young Calgarians to its “Junior IT analyst” program beginning later this month. The program will be offered out of NPower’s newly established downtown location, and consists of 15 weeks of no-cost skills training, industry certification, job placement and alumni services.
NPower, which is supported by a variety of corporate and public sponsors, will receive a $100,000 grant from the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund as part of its move to the city. The fund was established by the city council in 2018 for the purpose of investing in private, public and not-for-profit initiatives that promise to create jobs and stimulate Canada’s economy.
Coun. Jeff Davison, who sits on the board of OCIF, says there is a serious mismatch in Calgary right now between the jobs that are available and the skills job seekers possess. IT job growth in the city is currently outpacing overall job creation by 4:1, but many tech employers report difficulty finding people with in-demand digital skills.
“We’ve got to look at all avenues of putting people back to work in this city,” Davison says. “We’ve got thousands of tech jobs that are open in this city and we don’t really have a way of filling them with qualified people.”
NPower Canada CEO Julia Blackburn says the organization — which has also received funding from the Calgary Foundation — considered a number of locations for its Canadian expansion, but settled on Calgary because of the “community support” that was available. She says NPower has been consulting with a wide range of local employers and is confident there is a need for more tech training in the city.
“We hear from employers that although they often work with many different pipelines to hire employees, they’re not always able to attract the type of person they need as quickly as they want to,” she says. “The onboard process can take a long time.”
NPower, which is still accepting applications for the first group beginning May 21, plans to train at least 300 unemployed and underemployed young people in Calgary over the next three years. Program applicants must be between 18 and 29 years old, be able to demonstrate financial need, and have experienced barriers to completing post-secondary education or securing meaningful employment.
NPower is the fourth entity to receive a grant from OCIF since its launch a year ago. A total of $14.6 million has been awarded so far, with $85.4 million remaining in the fund.
There were more than 2,000 positions open in Calgary in March for software engineers, data scientists, and other types of programming, development and technology roles, according to Calgary Economic Development.
The most recent Statistics Canada report pegs the city’s unemployment rate at 7.7 per cent.