The Digital Literacy + Coding Pilot is preparing youth for the digital economy

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The government of Ontario, in partnership with the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship, recently announced the Digital Literacy + Coding Pilot, aiming to teach youth how to code and improve their digital skills to prepare them for jobs in the digital economy.

Up to 1,000 youth aged 12-15 in Belleville, Hamilton, London, Sudbury, and Toronto will participate in the Pilot, learning science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills.

“There’s nothing like watching a kid pick up a new piece of tech and just get it,” says Eleanor McMahon, President of the Treasury Board and Minister Responsible for Digital Government. “That’s why our government is partnering on a project that takes an important step toward a digitally inclusive province — one that will nurture curiosity, build a love of learning for young people and help prepare them for new job opportunities.”

Matching a private donation by Janice Fukakusa, Greg Belbeck, and family, Ontario will invest $1 million over two years in the Digital Literacy + Coding Pilot.

“The Digital Literacy + Coding Pilot will go a long way in helping young people develop the skills they’ll need to succeed in the workforce for years to come,” says Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development. “Our government understands that today’s in-demand skills are shifting — it’s why we made a commitment to increase Ontario’s STEM graduates by 25% over the next five years. By supporting this program, we’re making sure Ontario’s workforce stays competitive and adaptable in the new digital economy.”

Over the course of five years, the province is aiming to increase the number of annual STEM graduates from 40,000 to 50,000, and also support 1,000 applied masters in Artificial Intelligence.

It is absolutely crucial that the province and local governments make the effort to improve and support skills in the digital economy. According to the Digital Literacy + Coding Pilot, over the next 20 years, 42% of Canadian jobs will be at risk of being impacted by automation.

New technology and faster broadband connections also create countless opportunities for new careers! It’s important to remember that for the foreseeable future, new technology will still need to be managed and developed by skilled human beings. That’s why we need innovative programs like this Pilot to inspire a generation of innovative minds.

The Pilot will leverage existing infrastructure like libraries and community centres, which means these facilities will require high-speed, affordable Internet connections. As the government continues to support programs like this, it’s become even more clear that reliable broadband is an essential utility.

Campbell Patterson