Microsoft Canada expands its skills program to 8 more colleges and universities

Satya Nadella
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talks to Canadian students during a virtual briefing.

Microsoft Canada has announced the addition of eight post-secondary institutions to its Canada Skills Program, bringing the total to 20 schools in six provinces across Canada.

The company launched the Canada Skills Program in fall 2020 in 12 post-secondary institutions in hopes of enhancing data and AI skills and employability for more than 4,500 Canadian students. The program has been a success with the participation of over 20,000 students in the first six months.

On March 23, Microsoft added eight post-secondary institutions to the Canada Skills Program:

  • New Brunswick Community College (New Brunswick)
  • Georgian College (Ontario)
  • Collège La Cité (Ontario)
  • McMaster University, DeGroote School of Business (Ontario)
  • University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies (Ontario)
  • University of Waterloo (Ontario)
  • LaSalle College Vancouver (British Columbia)
  • Red River College (Manitoba)

“One of the key things we have to recognize is, how do you create this feedback loop between what is required to successfully do a job, the skills that can then be acquired for that job, and then the credentials that one can have. Once you’ve picked up the skills and that feedback loop needs to be much more dynamic,” said Microsoft chief executive officer Satya Nadella in conversation with Seneca College president David Agnew and Canadian students yesterday. “That to me is perhaps the most important aspect of what we are going to facilitate which is make skills acquisition and learning very much part of the core productivity tools that you use on a daily basis.”

Yesterday, the Information and Communication Technology Council of Canada (ICTC) also released a comprehensive report exploring the support needed for Canada’s digital workforce to acquire AI skills through various training pathways. The report suggests broad upskilling initiatives to target widely needed digital skills and strategic cross-training programs to address acute needs like those in the field of AI. 

The ICTC study found that 50 per cent of all information technology (IT) departments of companies surveyed in North America are either short-staffed or understaffed in ICT roles. The innovation economy is expected to create an additional 149 million new jobs globally by 2025.

Microsoft Canada says the Canada Skills Program aims to address this challenge and will support a minimum of 2,000 additional students in diploma, degree and continuing education programs across Canada by enabling them to graduate with in-demand data analytics, AI and cloud certifications.

Students pick Nadella’s brain about different skills-related topics

Nadella stressed the importance of soft skills, personal well-being, and the need to have a growth mindset when Jesse White, a Saskatchewan Polytechnic student, asked him about the first steps that students need to take as newly educated professionals, entering the workforce today. 

“When you think about work, of course, you’re hired because of the skills you have, the core capability that you bring to a job. But to get anything meaningfully done, you have to work in teams and that requires that ability to be able to compose with others to be able to achieve things that anyone team member cannot on their own. So this collaboration as a really important skill, I think, is something that everyone should stress,” said Satya. “The one other piece I would also say is it’s a marathon. The one thing I see in the folks who are just entering the workforce is that they need to think about their own well being – which is you have to take time to manage your own allocation of time so that you are able to learn, contribute, and then stay refreshed.”

Nadella also pointed out the need for students to have a growth mindset as the third important step in being successfully able to enter the workforce today. Never ditch the growth mindset, he added, and focus on what you’ve learned today and what you can learn tomorrow. 

 

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Pragya Sehgal
Pragya Sehgal
Can be contacted at psehgal@itwc.ca or 647.695.3494. Born and raised in the capital city of India - Delhi - bounded by the river Yamuna on the west, Pragya has climbed the Himalayas, and survived medical professional stream in high school without becoming a patient or a doctor. Pragya now makes her home in Canada with her husband - a digital/online marketing fanatic who also loves to prepare delicious meals for her. When she isn’t working or writing around tech, she’s probably watching art films on Netflix, or wondering whether she should cut her hair short or not.

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