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Expanded EDGE UP program offers tech training to more displaced oil gas professionals

Following a successful two-year pilot program, Future Skills Centre (FSC) will invest almost $5.4 million for the EDGE UP 2.0 program with Calgary Economic Development to provide training for 320 displaced oil and gas professionals for careers in tech.

EDGE UP (Energy to Digital Growth Education and Upskilling Project) is a multi-stakeholder program launched in Calgary in 2019 to test new approaches to skills development for mid-career workers for technology jobs being created in all sectors of Calgary’s economy.

The EDGE UP 2.0 program is led by Calgary Economic Development and Future Skills Centre with partners including the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), University of Calgary Continuing Education, SAIT, Mount Royal University, Bow Valley College, and Riipen.

The program targets professionals displaced from the structural change in the oil and gas sector. Students are trained for in-demand information technology jobs including data analysts, full-stack software developers, information technology project managers, cybersecurity analysts, UI/UX Designers, and digital marketing.

“Calgarians are problem solvers and there is strong demand among workers for upskilling and reskilling programs for the many good jobs in tech in our city,” said Mary Moran, President and Chief Executive Officer, Calgary Economic Development. “Calgary has a highly skilled talent that is able to pivot to new career opportunities with the training from our post-secondaries and private sector partners for skills that companies need.”

“We are pleased to support a sector that is facing deep economic challenges with an innovative program like EDGE UP,” said Pedro Barata, Executive Director, Future Skills Centre. “We know that workers in the oil and gas industry have been hard hit economically, and this program is showing promising results. Expanding this program will give us valuable insights into the ways that faster skills intervention can help workers, employers and industries to adapt effectively to changes in order to thrive in the economy of the future.”

The EDGE UP partners have enhanced and expanded the program to include a skills mapping study to validate in-demand skills, additional digital training streams, more workplace training opportunities, and targets a larger group of professions.

There will be two cohorts in EDGE UP 2.0, each running for up to nine months, with a total of 320 seats available. The first cohort is to begin late September 2021. The second cohort will begin early in 2022.

“We are delighted to partner with Calgary Economic Development, the Future Skills Centre, and other academic and workforce development partners in the design, skills mapping, and delivery of this pivotal worker transitioning program at a critical juncture of the job market,” said Namir Anani, President and CEO, ICTC. “Calgary benefits from a burgeoning digital landscape and a strong talent pool that can be transitioned to fill in-demand jobs, a winning combination for a growth economy.”

The EDGE UP pilot had a $1.5 million budget. It had two cohorts with a total of 98 participants that were selected from more than 1,000 applicants. More than 70 per cent of students from the first cohort are employed in tech jobs or are furthering their education.

Calgary post-secondary institutions will play a vital role in delivering the program and on the job training experience will be provided through Riipen.

“University of Calgary Continuing Education is excited to continue our partnership with Calgary Economic Development and all the EDGE UP stakeholders. We learned many important lessons as part of the EDGE UP pilot project,” said Dr. Sheila LeBlanc, Director, Continuing Education, University of Calgary. “In particular, how important work-integrated learning is to both support the confidence of transitioning professionals and to build their marketability with employers. EDGE UP 2.0 is going to provide even greater value to help displaced oil and gas talent!”

“The EDGE UP program is vital to the economic recovery of our city and province. SAIT is pleased to be a valued partner, and we are committed to being a champion of change and a solution provider for our growing tech economy,” said Katyryna Gaudet, Corporate Training Manager, SAIT. “With an unyielding focus on student success and industry connection, our programs, now including EDGE UP 2.0, enable learners with the skills they need to transition to digitally-focused careers.”

“As Calgary looks to recover from challenges in our province’s legacy industries, EDGE UP offers people with a wealth of experience a shot at transitioning to a new, rewarding career,” said Alison Anderson, Dean, Business, Technology, and Centre for Entertainment Arts, Bow Valley College. “They are reskilling and upskilling to become leaders in our new digital economy. Bow Valley College is proud to continue working with these talented individuals as they navigate this critical shift and exciting time of renewal.”

“Mount Royal University is pleased to join Calgary Economic Development as part of a leading-edge team that will work to positively impact Calgary's economic transformation,” said Brad Mahon, Dean, Faculty of Continuing Education, Mount Royal University. “We are committed to providing relevant and focused education to support the growing demand for tech skills in Calgary.”

"As the world of work continues to change, upskilling is more important than ever. Riipen is honoured to continue our collaboration with EDGE UP 2.0 to provide displaced oil and gas talent with work-integrated learning opportunities to help them apply their newly developed skills,” said Dana Stephenson, Co-founder and CEO, Riipen.

“In order to grow and scale globally competitive technology companies in Calgary, it is critical to create new talent streams where we can hire for in-demand technology roles. The EDGE UP program provides our team with a great source of local talent,” said Andrew Chau, Co-founder and CEO, Neo Financial, a Calgary fintech company that hired an EDGE UP grad.

“It was an absolute privilege to be involved in the first round of the EDGE UP program – it has allowed me to shift to the new tech economy and start down a new and exciting path! I am glad that more people will have that opportunity to do the same,” said Shona Clarke, Project Coordinator, Managed Platform Services, Fishbone Analytics.

More information about the program and the application process is available at on EDGE UP’s website. The program is funded for students accepted into the program.

Talent and Innovation are two key areas of focus for the economic strategy, Calgary in the New Economy. EDGE UP brings together those two elements of the strategy to drive digital transformation in industry.

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