About This Cause
ICTAM, the Information Communication Technology Association of Manitoba is on a mission to showcase Manitoba’s innovation and grow the province’s tech sector. Through collaboration, education and promotion, we bring people together to share skills, explore ideas and build an ever-growing and thriving tech community. ICTAM hosts quality events with industry leaders who are inventing the future, has delivered industry focused training for over 12-years and has demonstrated ability to execute large scale projects operating across the province and throughout Western Canada. Since 2008, we have continuously demonstrated our commitment to implementing programs to support indigenous youth, works diligently to foster diversity in the tech sector, and strives to connect girls and young women to careers in ICT.
On an ongoing basis, ICTAM hosts quality events with industry leaders who are inventing the future, organizes training sessions where members boost their skills, and champions causes that are important to members in our sector. ICTAM accomplishes many of our goals via our current program streams of Maven, Youth, and DigitALL.
MAVEN – promoting parity in tech
Our Maven initiative endeavours to promote gender parity in the tech sector and has strived for over a decade to encourage girls and young women to take an interest in STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). From mentoring to coaching and career development activities, MAVEN actively supports engaging more women in the tech sector by opening pathways to opportunities within our community.
MAVEN has successfully spearheaded a range of activities for young women in the middle-school years such as a technology workshop for girls to experience hands-on learning in coding, robotics and computational thinking. These workshops run for 6-weeks every Fall and is coordinated in collaboration with the local not-for-profit CanU. In addition, MAVEN facilitated a new 2-day event called Techies Can Dance which introduced girls to coding. This event demonstrated to youth how technology can be incorporated into a wide range of disciplines including the Arts. Techies Can Dance was widely embraced by the participants and engaged the girls’ imaginations as well as increased their understanding that technology can enhance participation in any aspect of life and continuous learning. Based on the success of Techies Can Dance, ICTAM’s Youth Programming Coordinator is currently working on not only continuing but expanding the program beyond its initial audience of 80 students.
YOUTH PROGRAMMING – promoting tech careers to youth
Youth Programming is another area that ICTAM is building. As Manitoba’s tech sector grows, we are facing a shortage of technical talent to fill jobs. With an ageing talent pool and fewer youth choosing tech related post-secondary options, ICTAM works diligently to introduce the range of tech career choices to our Manitoba youth. By delivering classroom presentations, participating in careers fair and fully supporting tech related community youth events, ICTAM aims to educate students as they decide on viable career options.
A large share of our Youth Programing revolves around the burgeoning P-TECH program – Pathways to Technology Early College Highschool. P-TECH is an innovative public-school educational model spanning grades 9-12 bringing together the best elements of high-school, college and career. This public-private partnership is designed to prepare young people with the academic, technical and professional skills required to fill the tech talent gap, and future of work in our province. Within four years, students in the P-TECH program will graduate with a high school diploma along with an associate diploma in the tech sector. As part of the program, they will also attain the skills and knowledge needed to continue studies or step easily into Manitoba’s high growth “new collar” jobs.
Four years in the making, ICTAM, through its partnership with the Pembina Trails School Division and MITT (Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology) successfully launched the first P-Tech model-based school in Manitoba. Students with a passion for software development, cyber security, coding and more now have an opportunity to leave grade 12 with a high school diploma, post-secondary education from MITT and a head start in an exciting career in tech. As the industry liaison, ICTAM bridges the gap between industry and students by linking with our members to provide:
- industry experts for focused mentoring
-relevant industry speakers
- work experience partners for the grade 10 P-Tech students for spring 2020
-developing paid summer internships
- first-in-line consideration for jobs with industry partner companies
Due to the success of it’s inaugural year, the P-TECH Pembina Trails school now has a dedicated new high-school building in the Smart Park and it’s second year will welcome 30 new students into grade 9 this fall.
ICTAM’s goal with the P-Tech program is to have five tech high schools within the next three years. Discussions are currently underway with the Seven Oaks School Division as they plan a pilot version of the P-Tech model for the 2019-2020 academic school year. Other possible locations for this high-tech program are St. Boniface College (French language version), Assiniboine Community College in Brandon and a northern initiative that incorporates UCN (University College of the North) as the post-secondary partner.
Other initiatives that Youth Programming will be working on this upcoming academic year includes a speaker series facilitated by Skip the Dishes employees targeted towards middle and high school students. The goal with this speaker series is to present tech and tech related jobs to Manitoba youth in an exciting and interactive way. A variety of twenty- minute classroom presentations are being developed by a core group of dedicated and passionate tech professionals from Skip. As we see a disproportionate number of females not entering STEM as a post secondary option, Skip’s aim is to have at least 50% of the presenters be female in order to provide positive role modeling for young women who might have an inclination to pursue tech as a viable career option.
DIGITALALL – tech training for everyone
Relatively new to the ICTAM repertoire of programming is DigitALL. DigitALL aims to increase the overall participation by Canadians in the digital economy by offering accessible programming to increase digital literacy and improve technology skills across Manitoba. The program’s delivery, facilitated by ICTAM, will be focused on individuals from under-represented groups and those living in under-served locations.
DigitALL aims to increase province-wide digital literacy at a basic level among the following groups:
-individuals aged 65+ years
-newcomers to Canada and/or language minorities
-persons with a lower household income
-persons with disabilities
-individuals who have not completed high school
-individuals living in rural and remote areas.
DigitALL offers accessible programming to increase digital literacy and improve basic computer skills in a safe, community environment. Manitoban’s enrolled in this program will acquire competences in the areas of basic computer skills, file management, email, internet, MS Office, security, social media, online job searching, Skype, basic business communication and e-commerce.
Although only in its early stages of the program, it is anticipated that a basic foundation in digital literacy will enable these individuals to gain not only basic digital skills but also to develop the ability to comprehend and critically evaluate how they engage in online environments. It will provide them with skills they can build upon, should they choose to do so. The potential to increase their opportunities to complete high school, access employment opportunities and overall participation in a digital world are the expected benefits to both individuals and communities.
A second stream of the DigitALL program is targeted towards teachers K-12. Within this stream, Digital ALL aims to increase digital literacy among non-tech K-12 teacher – improving their skills in utilizing technology and collaboration tools towards better digital literacy learning outcomes for their students in the classroom. By educating teachers in how to use and leverage technology tools, ICTAM will achieve a one-to-many impact across the education system. Digital skill areas that non-tech teachers require improvement on include collaboration tools, coding in the classroom, proper usage of social media and personal learning networks, utilizing tech for classroom instructions, digital citizenship, privacy and security concerns, and computational thinking.
DigitALL will provide opportunities for teachers to develop digital literacy skills which will create a multiplier effect in the schools and communities where they teach. As teachers become more proficient in their skills, they will be able to apply what they’ve learned in their classrooms to create experiential learning for their students using the previously mentioned digital tools. Additionally, teachers in rural and remote communities will have additional employment opportunities over the summer and part-time because they will be able to deliver in-community classes once their training concludes.
ICTAM is our community’s go to association for tech related initiatives. Working closely hand in hand with our membership base we are careful to consider and include youth, diversity and equality into all of our programming. As an important voice, advocate and connector in the Manitoban tech sector the opportunities for us to engage provincially and nationally seem to be limitless.