Major Funding and Schooling Announcement Made in Mississauga

It's no secret that the business world has changed astronomically with the rise of the digital era, and students in Mississauga and beyond are about to benefit from a major investment that will better prepare them for tech-focused careers.

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, recently appeared at the Microsoft office in Mississauga to announce the federal government's brand new CanCode program—a program that will invest $50 million in teaching Canadian students how to code.

"Coding is not just for computer scientists anymore," says Bains, adding that the project will provide 63,000 teachers with the resources to prepare students for STEM careers.

The CanCode program will invest $50 million over a period of two years, starting in 2017-18, "to support initiatives providing educational opportunities for coding and digital skills development to Canadian youth from kindergarten to grade 12 (K-12)."

The federal government says the program also supports initiatives that provide K-12 teachers with the training and professional development they need to introduce digital skills, coding and related concepts into the classroom.

Some organizations receiving funding include Actua (which will receive $10 million), the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, Kids Code Jeunesse, Canada Learning Code, Cybera and more.

"The program aims to equip youth, including traditionally underrepresented groups, with the skills and study incentives they need to be prepared for the jobs of today and the future," the federal government says. "Canada’s success in the digital economy depends on leveraging our diverse talent and providing opportunity for all to participate--investing in digital skills development will help to achieve this."

The emphasis on coding makes sense, as there are—and could be more—job opportunities that require or involve some tech savviness.

"Coding is the next big job," says Bains. "Industries ranging from automotive and agri-food to the life sciences and clean technology need coders, given their increasingly digital nature. That's why our government is equipping Canadian youth with the digital skills they need for the jobs of the future. By teaching kids to code today, we're positioning Canada for future success across all industries and sectors."

Actua, the largest recipient of CanCode investment says its funding will be used to increase program delivery across Canada by its 35 network member programs located at universities and colleges across Canada, and its Outreach Team which delivers across the north.

"We are honoured to be the largest recipient of CanCode funding and thrilled to provide additional support to our network members to engage more youth in building digital skills," says Jennifer Flanagan, President and CEO of Actua. "This support means that hundreds of thousands more youth, including 35,000 Indigenous youth, will have the opportunity to access free, deep-impact, face-to-face learning experiences which are critical to their future success and our future Canadian workforce."

Actua's CanCode funding will be matched by several of its corporate supporters including Google Canada and Microsoft (whose Canadian head office is based in Mississauga).

"We’re thrilled to see an investment in programs that will nurture the next generation of Canada’s technology builders. That’s why we support Actua through our Codemakers program, which has helped hundreds of thousands of young Canadians learn about the technology that is shaping our world," said Sabrina Geremia, country director at Google.

"We need more students pursuing an education in Computer Science, particularly those who have historically been underrepresented in the field, and today's announcement will help make that a reality. Computer Science is not the language of ones and zeros. It’s the language of creativity, entrepreneurship and potential."

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