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ICTC launches youth and education initiative for high school students across Canada

via ICTC

26 February 2013 – Ottawa ON

The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) today unveiled a re-energized and re-vamped Focus on Information Technology (FIT) program that seeks to attract and assist Canadian youth into technology careers as part of its youth and education initiative. To kick-start this launch, ICTC will be hosting a series of events across the country throughout 2013 to address both youth unemployment and Canada’s tech skills shortage. With the support of Cisco Canada, Google, Canada’s Association of IT Professionals (CIPS), and Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ), along with all 10 Canadian provinces, FIT and ICTC are now poised to address Canada’s ICT skills shortage head-on and ensure youth are successfully pursuing paths to in-demand job skills.

FIT is a curriculum-based program that seeks to engage and encourage Canadian youth in pursuing meaningful technology careers, and provides teachers with resources, career path awareness, and even advanced standing at some post-secondary institutions for successful FIT graduates. With a formalized agreement to be signed on March 7 to adopt FIT in Manitoba, the program will be present in all 10 provinces and can be adopted by high schools from one end of the country to the other.

Today, ICTC unveiled a new FIT website, www.FOCUSit.ca. ICTC will hold further events and initiatives over the year to raise awareness about the importance of attracting youth to technology careers. This is more important than ever in light of a prediction released by one leading bank that youth joblessness could cost the Canadian economy over $23 billion in the next two decades. The first such event will be a student career awareness day at Seneca College on February 28.

“Youth unemployment has remained high since the peak of the economic downturn four years ago,” said Namir Anani, President and CEO of the ICTC. “Ensuring that youth are aware of compelling career choices in technology, and have the tools and knowledge to pursue those, is more critical than ever as there continues to be a shortage of people with the right skills to work in today’s technology sector.”

“As a long-term partner with ICTC, the Cisco Networking Academy program is delighted to be an approved Focus on IT (FIT) program curriculum. Over the last 15 years, Cisco Networking Academy has graduated more than 107,000 students in Canada, demonstrating Cisco’s clear commitment to helping to build IT skills and promoting rewarding careers in Information Technology. We are pleased to support FIT as it brings these skills to Canadian high school students,” stated Nitin Kawale, President, Cisco Canada.

“The FIT program is helping Canadian youth develop the creative, entrepreneurial and digital skills needed to succeed in a world where technology is fundamental to economic growth,” said Colin McKay, Manager of Global Public Policy for Google Canada. “We are proud to be part of a project that encourages Canadian students to strive beyond the jobs of the past and imagine innovative careers of tomorrow.”

“Technology careers don’t have to mean coding or network engineering. Successful entrepreneurs at the DMZ come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines apart from technology, including business, environmental sustainability, design and other fields. More than technical knowledge, youth need to acquire entrepreneurial and collaboration skills, and to learn how to learn. ICTC understands the need for multi-disciplinary, informal, just-in-time learning, and the importance of providing youth a chance to gain experience through placement and co-op programs, as well as mentoring. We at the DMZ are pleased to collaborate often with ICTC and look forward to further opportunities to work together promoting technology careers for young people,” noted Valerie Fox, Executive Director of Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone.

“Technology has become not only pervasive, but interactively complex. Young people seeking challenging and meaningful careers, wishing to contribute to the general advancement of society and humanity’s body of knowledge will find the technology realm provides vast opportunities, tangible and intangible rewards and opportunities for fulfillment, through a lifetime of constantly changing work,” said Jerrard Gaertner, President of the CIPS (Ontario).

The Focus on Information Technology project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program.

For more information about ICTC’s efforts to address technology skill shortages and youth unemployment, call Jeff Leiper, Chief Policy Advisor, at 613.868.2375 or j.leiper@ictc-ctic.ca.

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Jeff Leiper

Jeff Leiper is Chief Policy Advisor to the ICTC. Unitl April 2012, he served as Director of Strategic Policy at the CRTC. In this capacity, he was charged with helping the CRTC understand the effect of convergence on the Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications industries. He has contributed to the development of broadcasting policies and research for an environment of greater consumer access to media content. Prior to joining the CRTC in 2007, Leiper served as Director of Canadian Market Strategies at Boston-based Yankee Group, where he helped clients understand the implications of technological change for consumer products and services. He has also worked extensively as a journalist in the communications trade press, focusing on regulatory issues in new media, telecommunications and wireless.

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