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‘Here We Code’ campaign bolsters Nova Scotia’s growing digital economy
Every year, the digital economy around the globe continues to expand at a rapid pace, constantly adapting to the needs of an increasingly diverse marketplace. Within that robust climate of opportunity, there are countless careers waiting for those interested in making a digital impact.
In Nova Scotia, the tech sector is worth an estimated $2.5 billion, and has seen a significant boom with an increased demand for digital skills in the overall workforce. Nova Scotia’s tech sector includes over 1,300 companies with over 25,000 employees between them, with tech making up around 10 per cent of all business output in the province.
The ‘Here We Code’ campaign – a collaborative tech-positive movement – seeks to drive the evolution of digital innovation between different sectors such as industry, education and business.
This campaign implores people in Nova Scotia to help build the province’s digital economy by exploring computer science, researching new technologies or making one’s business more digital friendly.
Since 2015, Andrew Rau-Chaplin has served as the dean of Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Computer Science, which is at the forefront of the ‘Here We Code’ initiative.
“Atlantic Canada is doing incredibly well in this sphere, and there is incredible future potential,” says Rau-Chaplin on the growth of the regional tech sector. “What we didn’t want was to see this growth not connect to Nova Scotians more broadly.”
Nova Scotia's tech sector is worth an estimated $2.5 billion. The 'Here We Code' campaign implores students to get more involved in the province's digital economy. PHOTO CREDIT: Nick Pearce.
Building off Dal’s ‘We Are All CS’ program that promotes the development of diverse talent in the computer science field, Rau-Chaplin emphasizes the importance of diversity in tech and capitalizing on Canada’s vibrant multiculturalism.
“Software and digital products reflect their creators, and we know that teams made up of people from diverse backgrounds produce richer and better solutions,” says Rau-Chaplin. “We want to lean into a world where the digital infrastructure that mediates our working and social lives reflects us as a population.”
Emily Boucher is the executive director of Techsploration, a Nova Scotia-based nonprofit of 25 years that delivers hands-on, mentor-led career exploration programming, primarily to young women between grades 9-12. Her organization is at the vanguard of an increasingly diverse digital talent pipeline in the region.
“Our aim as an organization is to increase the number of women employed in science, engineering, skilled trades and technology fields,” says Boucher. “These are fields that remain significantly underrepresented, and the technology sector is a huge part of that.”
Through participation with ‘Here We Code,’ Boucher highlights the importance of collaborative efforts and creating more awareness within individual communities and the larger region.
“There are so many organizations like Techsploration, Dalhousie – all the partners that are part of the initiative – working together to not only highlight the strengths of our sector, but also the opportunities,” says Boucher. “The more students know about how incredible the tech sector is, the more we’ll see young women go into these fields.”
Along with participation from various educational and nonprofit organizations, many companies have eagerly jumped onboard the ‘Here We Code’ campaign. They want to encourage the development of new talent and help provide that talent a career roadmap navigating the post-secondary world and the broader workforce.
Calvino Anderson is a technology consultant in Atlantic Canada representing Compugen, one of Canada’s largest, privately-owned and operated IT service providers.
According to Anderson, supporting initiatives like ‘Here We Code’ allows companies to share experiences and offer incentives to students and others looking to get into tech. “By sharing what we know – trends that we see, needs that we have from an employment perspective – it helps programs like ‘Here We Code’ align with us.”
As it stands, the tech sector continues to change dramatically year after year, and the digital economy offers its own unique challenges going forward as the rate of change increases and tech becomes more integrated with every facet of our lives.
“It used to be that tech jobs were focused on certain types of companies,” says Anderson on industry’s current state, compared to only a decade ago. “Today every company is a tech company and relies on technology in some shape or form.”
For more information on ‘Here We Code’ and the movement’s efforts to further develop the digital economy of Nova Scotia, please visit www.herewecode.ca .
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