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As cities around the globe struggle with widespread job losses due to COVID-19, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has cited the upskilling programs to retrain workers for jobs in tech in Calgary as a path for municipalities to follow.

In an article published as part of the WEF’s Global Agenda initiative, Calgary and Singapore are singled out as case studies for their approaches to the workforce challenges of a changing economy that is increasingly digital.  A downturn in the energy sector meant that Calgary had started on the path to digital transformation before many other cities. 

“Even before COVID-19 upended the global economy, some cities had begun to retrain workers for high demand tech and healthcare jobs, which are less likely to be eliminated by automation. Calgary, for example, developed a multi-pronged approach to attract tech companies and modernize its workforce,” the article said.

It reveals how the community created an economic strategy, Calgary in the New Economy, encouraging programs to support tech startups, promote science and math education, retrain workers for jobs in tech, and attract new companies. It points to our goal to increase the number of tech companies from 250 to 1,000 in the next 10 years.

The article begins by asking readers to imagine if the millions of people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic could be retrained for careers in cybersecurity, software programming, and other tech fields. And to imagine if cities worked with local businesses, universities, and non-profits to better match workforce needs with skilled candidates.

That image is essentially the playbook implemented for Calgary, said Mary Moran, President and Chief Executive Officer, Calgary Economic Development.

“We have a long road ahead, but I think we’re doing the right things,” said Moran. “It keeps me up at night thinking about these super smart people. It’s a tragic waste of really good talent and change can’t happen fast enough.”

Read the full article from the World Economic Forum, here: How upskilling could help cities rebuild after Coronavirus.

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