Canadian Information and Communications Technology (ICT) players have formulated an encouragement program that pursues high school students to buck the recession and consider careers in IT sector. The companies hope to avoid shortage of skilled workforce that could impact the tech sector and negatively affect the Canadian economy. In Ottawa, tech mentors from IBM Canada Ltd., Macadamian Technologies Inc., and Nortel (News – Alert) have worked with the first crop of 48 students in a high school pilot program. They aim to double their attendance next year and expand it to other cities as well. OCRI has partnered in a pilot program called 'The Ottawa High School Technology Program' and delivered seven experts from three companies to tutor high school student participants and work with them in hands-on labs at industry sites and in their classrooms and share expert computer skills.
OCRI is the Ottawa's economic development agency and is the rallying point to bring business, education, research and talent together to create the winning economic conditions that allow Ottawa's knowledge-based companies to thrive locally and compete globally. This program was created to address the declining enrollment in post-secondary technology courses, to inspire students to pursue ICT careers before their senior year courses are locked in and to keep the city of Ottawa as a technology leader. After implementing a lot of initiative programs for high school students it became clear that the programs with the greatest impact on the students were the ones that allowed them to explore leading edge technology under the mentorship of industry experts. And this kind of technological interaction with professionals will only help students thrive in college and university technology courses instead of hitting a wall for lack of these skills. Recent surveys have indicated that negative perceptions of the tech sector following the bubble burst of 2002 and students disinterest in IT programs in Universities across Canada have the potential to make a situation where more than 90,000 jobs in the IT sector had to be filled in the next two to four years and if they remain unfilled it might affect the Canadian economy to a tune of $10.8 billion.