Seneca College has teamed up with Microsoft Canada and the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) to help Canadian students, graduates and professionals attain skills in data analytics, artificial intelligence and cloud computing through free Microsoft Azure Fundamentals workshops. 

The workshops will comprise two-day, eight-hour short courses that Microsoft Canada says will enable participants to learn critical skills for post-pandemic economic recovery. Up to 6,000 students are expected to participate. 

“Whether it’s retraining or starting fresh, it’s clear that the skills needed to excel in today’s workplace are changing. We have a responsibility to help young people prepare for that change,” said Mark Beckles, senior director, youth strategy & innovation, RBC, in a press release. “Through our support of this collaboration, we know more young people will be enabled to identify, articulate, and build the skills they need to succeed.”

This initiative is an extension of Microsoft’s Canada Skills Program announced this past September, and a part of RBC Future Launch, RBC’s $500 million commitment aimed at equipping Canadian youth with the skills required for the jobs of tomorrow. 

“The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation across virtually every industry resulting in greater demand for skills in cloud, data and AI,” said Kevin Peesker, president, Microsoft Canada. “To meet the needs of Canada’s growing digital economy and give Canadians the skills they need to take advantage of job market opportunities, industry and academia must work together to bridge the gap and help unlock innovation.”

The impact of layoffs

Statistics Canada surveyed 12,000 Canadian businesses between April 3 and 24 on how COVID-19 impacted them and found that nearly one in five of these businesses laid off more than 80 per cent of staff, causing many Canadians to acquire new digital skills with businesses reskilling their workforce and onboarding more technically savvy employees.

Many industries have been hit hard by the ongoing pandemic, and the move to remote work and accelerated digital transformation has deepened the disconnect around skills above all. Equipping workers with in-demand skills and reskilling them has become imperative for businesses to survive. 

By offering the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals workshop for free, Seneca, Microsoft and RBC state they’re ensuring these foundational skills are made available without barrier, helping to develop a Canadian workforce with a strong understanding of cloud computing that is used in most business environments. 

The workshops start this month and run through the end of June. Interested participants can register for the workshops now on Seneca’s website.

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