By Ashlee Starratt
When Raj Chokka immigrated to Nova Scotia, he found himself stuck in a rut – hoping to pursue his passion and training in agricultural production but finding few inroads to help him navigate local job market opportunities in his field.
“I had trouble finding a job as a new Canadian with little Canadian work experience,” he recalls. “I was working part-time as a cashier and felt stuck in cashier roles. I had education from back home in agricultural production, and I knew that technical knowledge would be a real plus.”
It wasn’t until Chokka linked up with NPower Canada that his professional aspirations for his new life in Canada began to solidify and his qualifications, boosted by further support and training through NPower, translated into opportunity.
Launching tech careers, transforming lives
One of the country’s fastest-growing professional training and coaching organizations, NPower Canada aims to provide underserved young adults ages 17-30 facing barriers to employment with the training and tools they need to launch careers in the tech sector.
Having launched its inaugural program in Nova Scotia in January 2021 with a focus on serving marginalized and racialized young jobseekers, NPower Canada welcomed 44 new graduates from its Junior IT Analyst Program at the end of May.
Raj Chokka was one of them. “I have managed to land a job in agricultural production as a Technical Sales Consultant,” he says, smiling. “And my tech training helped me land this job.”
Canada’s youth employment rate in April 2021 sits at 16.1 per cent – or twice the national average according to StatsCan – and these rates can be much higher among youth who are Indigenous, racialized, or have disabilities.
When it comes to services supporting opportunities for youth who meet these criteria in Nova Scotia, the biggest gap in program deliverables in the province comes down to direct connection to employment, says NPower Canada Chief Operating Officer Andrew Reddin.
“While youth from racialized and other underserved communities do benefit from job search coaching, ultimately youth need direct connections to hiring managers for solid job opportunities. NPower Canada bridges this gap by upskilling youth for the growing numbers of tech-enabled jobs that employers need to fill, and then placing our graduates into those roles.”
With the health and well-being of vulnerable Canadian youth put further at risk by the significant social and economic disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, these adversities are magnified for young people trying to enter the labour market or who are employed in low-wage jobs in retail or hospitality.
It’s here where NPower Canada offers a bolstered level of support through a uniquely holistic approach to its services.
“While many standalone programs like resume-writing or job search workshops can be helpful, youth from underserved communities often require more intensive, holistic support,” explains Reddin. “NPower Canada provides young jobseekers with a full continuum of support, starting with no-cost, accelerated technical and professional skills training, followed by direct job placement support and five years of post-hire services including mentorship and continued education.”
With employers directly involved in designing its curriculum, NPower Canada is able to ensure that program participants are equipped with the skills most valued by industry. “This direct industry engagement has been key to NPower Canada’s ability to place more than 80 per cent of its graduates into employment or higher education, both pre- and post-pandemic,” Reddin elaborates.
The most rewarding aspect is the tangible difference the program makes in the lives of the youth whom we serve and their families. By connecting youth from underrepresented communities with sustainable employment, we are supporting youth to lift themselves and their families out of poverty, while building promising careers and bright futures for themselves.”
How to enroll in NPower Canada’s Junior IT Analyst Program
NPower Canada is accepting applications for their June-September and September-December Junior IT Analyst Program, delivered in partnership with Google. This program transitions youth into digital careers with strong growth prospects in areas like IT support services, software development, Agile project management, information security and quality assurance. Participants earn globally recognized industry credentials such as the Google IT Support Professional Certificate.
Here’s how it can help you kick-start your career:
- This instructor-led program equips participants with marketable skills for tech-enabled jobs.
- Graduates of this program earn the Google IT Support Professional Certificate.
- You don’t need to have prior knowledge in IT to apply – you’ll learn in-demand skills that will have you job-ready in less than six months.
- If you enjoy solving problems, learning new tools and helping others, then this is the program for you!
- The program is open to young adults from Halifax, Cape Breton/Sydney, and Truro ages 17-30 and is completely free of charge thanks to funding from the Government of Nova Scotia, ESDC, Google Canada, RBC Foundation and other supporters.
“Youth begin by completing an online application on the NPower Canada website. Our staff respond within two business days to confirm eligibility and next steps, which include youth completing a brief skills assessment and meeting with our team to discuss their career goals and interests,” explains NPower Canada Chief Operating Officer Andrew Reddin.
These warm meetings also help our staff to assess whether we need to work with community partners to offer additional support to youth in areas like housing or settlement while they attend our program. We want to ensure that youth have all the support they need to focus on completing training and securing employment.”
For Raj Chokka, this support became a career catalyst that would go on to change his life experience as a newcomer in Canada.
“NPower Canada helped me to enhance my IT skills as well as my professional and personal development skills to enter into the job market in Canada,” he says. “Staff are very supportive and disciplined and I am grateful to have met such lovely people in this program. NPower Canada is a program I recommend to whoever is facing difficulty finding a job, as it enhances the skills that are required to land meaningful work and start building your career.”
Visit NPower Canada today to learn more and enroll!