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How you can support Digital Skills Training in British Columbia

Posted February 1, 2022 in 
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Currently, only 1.2% of the Information Communications Technology (ICT) sector’s employees identify as Indigenous in what is currently called Canada; however, Indigenous Peoples make up 4.9% of the national population. How can we greatly increase Indigenous participation and leadership in the ICT sector?

It starts with breaking down the barriers; together, with you.

When the average Canadian starts their journey into the ICT sector, they have most likely been using the tools needed to succeed from an early age. Things many people take for granted: internet connectivity, a computer, a phone, and cell coverage. When it comes time to choosing a school, these tech hopefuls are likely considering schools’ popularity, reputation, location, and cost.

This journey looks entirely different for our people who face persistent, systemic barriers to maximizing the tools and opportunities needed to thrive in the digital age. 

Just 25% of Indigenous Peoples in BC have access to a reliable and affordable internet connection. Combine this with a lack of access to equitable, affordable, and sustainable digital and connected technologies, and you’re likely starting to see the problem colonization has created. Unfortunately, fixing just connectivity and technology is only half the battle.

Like most post-secondary programs in Canada, mainstream technology training programs are not Indigenous designed and led, lacking appropriate cultural context, reference, and support. Unsurprisingly, these programs have not successfully attracted, retained, or trained Indigenous Peoples to take on significant roles in the sector.

The Technology Council, through our Indigenous Innovation Institute, has launched a Digital Skills Bursary Fund to help solve this problem. This is where you come in.

The Institute’s culturally grounded curriculum, instruction, learner supports, and career services have resulted in an 85% completion rate, 35% higher than that of non-Indigenous training providers. To say we’re anything less than extremely proud that over 75% of our alumni network has gone on to utilize their skills toward employment or advanced training in technology and innovation – would be a massive understatement. Our learners are provided with fully-funded learning opportunities – at no cost to them, and all of the tools and foundational skills necessary to learn.The Institute’s culturally grounded curriculum, instruction, learner supports, and career services have resulted in an 85% completion rate, 35% higher than that of non-Indigenous training providers. To say we’re anything less than extremely proud that over 75% of our alumni network has gone on to utilize their skills toward employment or advanced training in technology and innovation – would be a massive understatement.

Unfortunately, we struggle for enough funding each year to be able to keep up with the demand for our courses and programs. As a result, we’ve launched a Digital Skills Bursary Fund to diversify our funding sources and increase access to our digital skills training programs through our Indigenous Innovation Institute. Our goal is to raise $300,000 to help 350 learners go through our programming each year, with at least 10% receiving financial support through the Bursary Fund. 

Whether you’re an individual, company, or philanthropic organization wanting to contribute, every donation helps. Learn more about the Digital Skills Bursary Fund here and consider donating today.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of our inaugural sustaining partners, all of which have contributed $25,000 or more to increasing access to digital skills training programs, at the Indigenous Innovation Institute: ShawMetaLab, and the McCall McBain Foundation.