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Underrepresented newcomers in tech: “In a competitive global economy, Canada can’t afford to leave talent on the sidelines.”


Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills have long been associated with innovation and a resilient economy, but women, particularly those who are newcomers to Canada, are often underrepresented in STEM fields.

According to the National Sciences and Research Council of Canada, “Canada’s greatest potential can only be realized when all people are welcomed into the laboratory, the classroom, and the field. We all benefit from the wide range of perspectives and talent that make our research and our society better. In a competitive global economy, Canada can’t afford to leave talent on the sidelines.”

“Now more than ever is a time to come together and focus on leveraging our collective expertise and identifying creative solutions that will support the employment and training needs of our province’s workforce,” says Minister Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “Our job is to connect the dots and ensure newcomers have the support they need to pursue the in-demand and fulfilling careers available in their new home and to provide for their families. These training investments will go a long way to strengthening our economy and local communities.”

OWN it: take tech training

Lighthouse Labs is a national organization that was created in 2013 by a team of software developers who have a love of code, a belief in the power of mentorship and education, and a drive to contribute to the development of Canada’s tech talent.

One of the company’s programs is the Ontario WebDevelopers Network (OWN) initiative, funded in part by Skills Advance Ontario. Originally developed to address labour market access barriers for both newcomer women and the employers who hire them, Lighthouse Labs partnered with Achēv, the Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre, the YMCA of Greater Toronto and the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance, amongst others, to deliver a pioneering program that funds and trains unemployed, underemployed, and underrepresented Ontarians in the skills needed to work in the digital economy.

“The pandemic has accelerated the future of work, and now more than ever, having technical skills is essential to entering the workforce,” says Jeremy Shaki, CEO and co-founder of Lighthouse Labs. “Ontario is home to some of the world’s most prominent tech hubs. Opportunities like the OWN initiative will not only give participants the skills required to be part of this booming industry, it will help strengthen and rebuild our economy.”

A bootcamp for the brain, not the body

Eligible participants are enrolled in Lighthouse Labs’ highly successful, 12-week immersive Web Development Bootcamp to learn everything from JavaScript to software architecture. Additional resources, such as career coaching and interview prep, are offered to ensure that each student is ready to make their leap into a career in tech.

And the success rate speaks for itself: in its 2020 Student Outcomes Report, Lighthouse Labs reports that out of 478 total Web Development Bootcamp graduates, 97 percent of the job-seeking grads found employment and 87 percent were hired within 180 days.

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