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Youth unemployment in Toronto is in excess of 20 per cent – one of the highest rates in Canada. Yet many technology companies in the region struggle to find qualified talent. A new group says it’s teaming with the tech sector to offer free training to the unemployed or under-employed.

NPower Canada, an off-shoot of a highly successful U.S. group, is setting up shop in Toronto to deliver it’s highly successful Technology Services Corps Canada (TSC) program. The program, which starts in November at Ryerson University for 25 students, provides no-cost training for skilled, in demand information technology jobs. For example, the plan is to provide up to 15 weeks of training in foundation skills such as the Cisco Systems-designed IT Essentials, and preparing for A+ Certification.

It supports internship programs to gain much needed experience. It also offers mentoring, life skills coaching, networking and a range of “post-hire” support structures.

It’s this holistic approach is part of the secret of success for NPower, particularly with disadvantaged youth where unemployment percentages are staggeringly high. NPower has boasted success rates as high as 80 per cent in the U.S. cities where it pioneered this program and targets at least 75 per cent success in its initial offering in Toronto.

NPower says another secret its success is its ability to martial partnerships and coalitions of support. It launched Monday with an impressive list of technology partners including Cisco Canada and Accenture. The group is not only relying on technology providers: others groups are also stepping up.Ryerson University has signed up to provide state of the art facilities, TD Bank is providing equipment, community group CivicAction launched a parallel and supporting initiative it terms it’s “Initialtive Escalator: Jobs for Youth Facing Barriers”.

NPower is mounting an impressive campaign to bring even more organizations into support, reaching out through standard PR techniques and a growing social media presence. Jeffrey Maddox, Cisco Canada’s vice-president of sales, made an impressive and impassioned case for support on Toronto media CBC’s highly rated Metro Morning show. IT World Canada is in talks with the organization to see how we can be of support after one of their volunteers reached out on social media to inform us of this exciting program.

The success of this coalition is a win-win for our industry. We not only help increase employment and break the cycle of youth unemployment, we help our own industry train eager, knowledgeable and loyal workers for jobs in the IT sector. While we often hear the bad news of disappearing tech jobs, IT World Canada’s CIO Census confirms that there are many areas where there are gaps where jobs go unfilled. A recent report in “two-thirds of Canadian CEOs report skill shortages and 106,000 additional IT workers must be hired by 2016 to meet industry demands”.

The group also plans to leverage its growing list of corporate IT sector volunteers to bring programs into secondary schools. It hopes to inspire a new generation of students to revers the declining interest in science, technology, engineering and even mathematics — essential for a growing knowledge economy in Canada.

IT World Canada is solidly behind this new initiative and urges all of our community to take a look at this new program. We hope to bring you news about the growth and success of the program in the coming months. Interested companies or individuals can find out more info at www.npowercanada.ca



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