Credit: Courtesy of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster

(Clockwise from top left) Sue Paish, CEO of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster, attended the announcement of the Canadian Tech Talent Accelerator with federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne, NPower Canada CEO Julia Blackburn and Microsoft Corp. president Brad Smith

The new Tech Talent Accelerator program will provide in-demand skills to 2,500 youth from communities underrepresented in the technology sector

As COVID-19 pushes business to go digital, young Canadians on the wrong side of the technology divide just got a lifeline.

On Thursday, Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster unveiled the Canadian Tech Talent Accelerator, which helps support the nation’s recovery from the pandemic by providing tech skills to youth from communities underrepresented in the digital economy.

Total investment in the new project is $8.7 million, with industry and other partners contributing $7.3 million and the rest coming from the federal ministry of innovation, science and industry via the Vancouver-headquartered Digital Technology Supercluster.

Workforce development nonprofit NPower Canada is teaming up with Microsoft Canada and Toronto-based software developer Blueprint to launch the 15-week online skills training and job placement program, which will prepare 2,500 people aged 18-29 for digital careers.

Supercluster CEO Sue Paish attended the virtual announcement, along with NPower Canada CEO Julia Blackburn, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne and Microsoft Corp. president Brad Smith.

“By partnering with industry players like Microsoft, we better understand the challenges they face in identifying skilled talent as we continue to drive technology adoption across our economy,” Paish said in a statement. “Through this project, we continue to support scaling digital companies and saving and creating jobs for all Canadians.”

The Canadian Tech Talent Accelerator follows the debut of the federal government’s 50-30 Challenge, which aims to boost representation and inclusion of diverse groups in the workplace; and its $1.5-billion investment in workforce development agreements with provincial and territorial governments to help Canadians in underrepresented groups get quick access to support so they can rejoin the workforce.

The Digital Technology Supercluster brings together public and private sector organizations of all sizes to tackle the challenges facing a variety of industries. Its members include many B.C.-based organizations; you can find the full list here.