NPower Canada expands in Alberta, offering free tech training for young people

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NPower Canada is offering free training to help young people succeed in Alberta’s fastest-growing sector.

Anyone between the ages of 17 and 30 with a high school diploma can apply for the 15-week training programs.

The junior IT analyst and junior data analyst programs, developed in partnership with Microsoft and Google, have been offered in Calgary since 2019. Every year, about 300 students graduate from the programs, which will now also be available in Edmonton, Red Deer and Lethbridge.

“We know that there is a skills gap in the tech industry and what we want to do is to provide employers with that much-needed talent pipeline to include young people within their workplace as well,” said Lisa Moon, regional director for NPower Canada.

Becca Buffalo, 24, is one of the recent grads.

Originally from Maskwacis First Nation, north of Red Deer, she was also involved in a pre-training session through NPower’s Tech Career Pathways program. The week-long program is offered specifically to Indigenous youth.

“Indigenous people historically didn’t really fit into the [tech] sector, or they didn’t really see much of themselves or their representation in that sector,” said Tyra Vedan from Miskanawah, an Indigenous support group based in Calgary. Miskanawah is collaborating with NPower on the Pathways program.

“A lot of traditional teachings are about health and wellness and kind of a holistic approach — how to take care of your spirit and how to take care of your mental health and connect back to your culture and tradition,” said Vedan.

“I feel like the culture is kind of lost,” said Buffalo.

“We know it’s important but sometimes we don’t know how to find it, or learn about it.”

Eleven years ago, Buffalo lost her grandmother, who was a survivor of residential schools. Buffalo now carries her handkerchief with her as a reminder of her past, and as motivation to keep moving forward.

“A lot of time I find ourselves focusing on the pain we have and not on the actual progress,” said Buffalo. “And I do see the progress.”

And while her current job title at SanJel Energy focuses on IT, she’s doing much more than that.

“They want to know what they can do better to engage the Indigenous communities that they are operating closest to,” said Buffalo.

“They want me to explain why it’s important and they want me to explain my experience.”

She’s grateful for the opportunity NPower gave her: new skills, confidence and a large network of support.

NPower is still accepting applicants for their next training sessions, which start Sept. 20.

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