Energy to digital career training program receives funding to expand

EDGE UP 2.0 will enable more former oil and gas workers to transition to careers in Calgary’s growing digital economy
Chris Liu is a graduate of the EDGE UP pilot program and now works as a data analyst.

Following a successful two-year pilot, the Energy to Digital Growth Education and Upskilling Project — or EDGE UP – is receiving more than $5.4 million from the Future Skills Centre for two new cohorts. The first is set to begin in September.

The program delivers skills development training to enable former oil and gas workers to transition into careers in tech in Calgary’s growing digital economy.

Led by Calgary Economic Development and Future Skills Centre, EDGE UP 2.0 partners include the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), SAIT, University of Calgary Continuing Education, Mount Royal University, Bow Valley College and Riipen.

“The EDGE UP program is vital to the economic recovery of our city and province,” says Katyryna Gaudet, Corporate Training Manager at SAIT. “We are committed to being a champion of change and a solution provider for our growing tech economy.

“With an unyielding focus on student success and industry connection, our programs, including EDGE UP 2.0, empower learners with the skills they need to transition to digitally-focused careers.”

For the pilot, SAIT delivered a Data Analytics program designed to give participants the knowledge and skills to apply fundamental principles of data analytics to support business decision-making processes.

Chris Liu is a graduate of the EDGE UP 1.0 Data Analytics program.

With a degree in petroleum geology, Liu worked as a wellsite geologist for about seven years. After losing his job in 2019, he was working as a lab assistant during the summer at Foothills Hospital when he heard about EDGE UP. After completing an application he was accepted as one of 16 students in the first cohort of Data Analytics.

“We spent the first week working on career training — resumes, cover letters and interviews — with people from ICTC. The second week we started classes at SAIT,” says Liu. “Then, COVID made things move online. Learning how to utilize remote tools and coming up with a capstone project entirely online with a group was definitely a learning experience, but we all did well and learned a lot from this experience.”

Liu finished the program in June 2020 and started working as a data analyst at PBS Systems in August.

“The type of work I do is definitely relatable to what I learned at school. Along with the ICTC career training, I think being in the program helped me get noticed.”

Liu works with automotive dealership systems, managing their databases and the conversion from their old database to the one offered by PBS.

“A number of people have asked me on LinkedIn about taking the program. I would definitely recommend it to anyone.”

More than 70% of students from the first cohort of EDGE UP are employed in tech jobs or are furthering their education.

“Calgarians are problem solvers and there is strong demand among workers for upskilling and reskilling programs for the many good jobs in tech in our city,” says Jeanette Sutherland, Director, EDGE UP. “Calgary has a highly skilled talent that is able to pivot to new career opportunities with the training from our post-secondaries and private sector partners for skills that companies need.”

The expanded EDGE UP program will include a skills mapping study to validate in-demand skills, additional digital training streams and more workplace training opportunities, and targets a larger group of professions.

Each cohort will run for up to nine months with 320+ seats available. Applications for EDGE UP 2.0 are now open.

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