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As Calgary continues to diversify and seize the opportunity to grow its new economy, it builds for the future with a solid foundation of technical expertise and workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

“I’m confident in saying that we have one of the strongest STEM-technical workforces in North America,” says Jeanette Sutherland, director of EDGE UP/ Workforce & Productivity at Calgary Economic Development. “As thousands of our energy professionals were displaced from the industry, at the same time, many of the in-demand skills shifted to more of a demand for digital competencies to adapt to the needs of the new economy.”

Between 2012 and 2017, high-tech employment grew by 60 per cent in Calgary, and it’s growing even faster now. However, what we’re learning is some of the greatest opportunity for job growth is in roles supporting digital transformation across all sectors, including energy, explains Sutherland. “This is evident by the emerging clusters that have developed in the city over the past four years, including; blockchain and fintech, agritech, digital automation, autonomous systems, AR/VR, digital media and animation, clean technologies, biotech, advanced manufacturing and robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, life sciences and health technologies. In-demand digital roles include software developers, data analysts, IT project managers, cyber security, and UI/UX designers.”

With a forecasted $18.4-billion digital spend in Alberta by 2022 across all sectors, digital skill sets are critical to driving the economic strategy, Calgary in the New Economy, forward.

“You’ve heard the saying; data is the new oil. It appears that industry is relying on more skilled data analysts and data scientists to support a data-driven economy. Big-data jobs are found across all sectors, from health care to finance, to trade, AI and machine learning. As highlighted in the report, Mapping Calgary’s Digital Future, released by ICTC and Calgary Economic Development earlier this year, chemical engineers, petroleum engineers and electrical engineers may be well positioned to pivot to new careers as data analysts with some short-term reskilling,” says Sutherland.

The advantages of having a strong STEM-skilled workforce is that for many of the in-demand positions, minimal reskilling of their current skill set, through a four-to-five-month program, can transition to new opportunities.

“The good news is that the amount of high-tech training completions in Calgary has grown by almost 300 per cent in the past two years,” adds Sutherland. “Various local training programs available, both short-term and long-term, can help individuals reskill for these new in-demand digital positions requiring skills like Agile, C#, Ruby on Tails, Python, SQL, and Javascript. High-tech training is available at all of the post-secondary institutions in Calgary, as well as through programs like EDGE Up, EvolveU, Lighthouse Labs, Momentum, NPower, ComIt, RoboGarden, etc.”

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