EDGE UP: Energy to Digital Growth Education and Upskilling Project

Displaced oil and gas workers in Calgary have the opportunity to learn new skills that equip them for jobs in the information technology sector, thanks to a program funded by the Future Skills Centre (FSC) that is now expanding.

On April 30, 2021, FSC and Calgary Economic Development announced that a two-year pilot program would be expanded with an additional investment of almost $5.5 million to train more than 320 unemployed oil and gas professionals for careers in tech.

The program, called EDGE UP (Energy to Digital Growth Education and Upskilling Project) launched in Calgary in 2019 with the goal of testing new approaches to skills development for mid-career energy sector workers so they could obtain the skills for technology jobs in all sectors of Calgary’s economy. At that time, FSC invested almost $1.5 million over two years, led by Calgary Economic Development and a consortium of post-secondary and private sector partners. The partners collaborated to design, implement and evaluate a digital upskilling pilot project with the goal of transitioning 90 displaced mid-career Calgary energy sector workers to high-growth technology opportunities. 

Skills Development Stories: EDGE UP

Since the first cohort launched, more than 70 per cent of students who participated are  employed in tech jobs or are furthering their education. The April 2021 investment expands on the pilot project with the introduction of EDGE UP 2.0, increasing the number of participants and the amount of funds invested. The program is led by FSC and Calgary Economic Development, and includes the Information and Communications Technology Council, University of Calgary Continuing Education, SAIT, Mount Royal University, Bow Valley College, and Riipen.

Two cohorts of participants will receive training for up to nine months, with a total of 320 spots available. The first cohort is scheduled to start in September 2021. 

Calgary’s economy is transitioning with a restructuring of the energy sector in recent years. Meanwhile, digital transformation is disrupting all industries and driving opportunities in business. The economic strategy, Calgary in the New Economy, identifies “talent” as critical to generating sustained prosperity in the digital economy.

Many of the professionals displaced mid-career in the restructuring of the energy sector were engineers and geoscientists. The demand for tech workers is flourishing and companies are challenged to execute business plans due to a shortage of digitally skilled workers.

Working with employers to identify the best upskilling pathways, the program will help transition participants who will be trained for hard and soft skills and be placed in specific positions, such as; data analysts, full-stack developers, information technology project managers, cybersecurity analysts, UI/UX designers, IT business development people and digital marketing professionals..

The pilot project was implemented in two phases over two years:

  1. Pilot design – Calgary Economic Development consulted with local employers to determine the most promising digital upskilling pathways; training institutions developed the curriculum and 98 participants were selected from more than 1,000 applicants.
  2. Pilot implementation – Displaced professionals started training in areas including workplace readiness, cultural and technical skills, and work-integrated learning.

Increased work-integrated learning opportunities for EDGE UP 2.0, in alignment with the digital skills training, will help create stronger pathways to employment. 

Evaluation Strategy

This project will be evaluated using tools and approaches aligned with its goals, context, and stage of development. The evaluation will focus on generating the right evidence at the right moment to move the intervention forward. Read more about our evaluation strategy.

As the energy industry continues to transform, sector workers need skills development supports to adapt and transition into new careers. This evaluation report provides key findings and implications from the Energy to Digital Growth Education and Upskilling Project, a pilot ICT training program for displaced oil and gas workers in Calgary funded through Canada’s Future Skills Centre.

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