It was just over a year ago that we announced our landmark partnership with Google Canada to upskill 1,700 low-income, diverse young adults for careers in information technology (IT). With Google.org’s investment of $2.5 million, we began to pilot, test and integrate the Google IT Support Professional Certificate and the Google IT Automation with Python Professional Certificate into our program offerings, providing scholarships, instructional support, and wraparound support for learners. We also updated our existing Junior IT Analyst Program and launched two new alumni programs.
When we announced this partnership last year, we couldn’t have predicted the impact the COVID-19 pandemic would have on our first year of programming. Starting a new career path is always tough, but a global pandemic added a new level of complexity, and we saw youth unemployment levels skyrocketing. But as automation and technology became more important in helping both the private and public sector to adapt and thrive during the pandemic, Canadian workers also adapted to learn new technical skills to match where the future of work was quickly heading.
In 2020, our two cohorts enrolled 450 underserved young adults into programs based in the Greater Toronto Area and Calgary, however with pandemic restrictions on gatherings, we quickly pivoted to delivering these programs online. The silver lining of this shift was that virtual learning offered greater accessibility and flexibility for many youth. That, coupled with a strong online peer support community, contributed to higher engagement, increased skills acquisition and program completion outcomes.
Given the economic turndown triggered by the pandemic, the post-program success outcomes for alumni were difficult to predict. However, we’re very pleased to report that job placement outcomes have been stronger than expected. Currently, 83% of youth who graduated in September 2020 are employed or in a new education program at five months post-program, and for those who recently graduated in December, over 45% are employed or in education at less than two months post-program.