Science World to expand tech literacy training for youth with new funding
Tech-Up program prepares children for the jobs of the future.
It was in the spring of 2017 when Sandy Eix, Science World’s director of STEM Learning, called the concept of digital literacy both relevant and urgent. While she could’ve been commenting on the Trump presidency––and to be sure, we can’t be certain that she wasn’t––her remarks were in reference to the ideals of Tech-Up, an initiative founded in 2018 to get children learning about coding, computational thinking and tech education.
“Understanding how to safely and appropriately use tech is a huge part of our reality right now,” Eix said at the time. “And you need your science lens to evaluate the reliability of information you find online.” But beyond the ability to distinguish between fact and fiction on the internet, STEM education for youth is crucial for another critical reason: Canada needs more digitally-skilled talent. How much? A lot. A 2020 report from the Information and Communications Technology Council estimates the demand will reach more than 305,000 by 2023.
For that reason, Science World is celebrating new funding received from Mastercard, Amazon Canada and the Government of Canada’s CanCode initiative to extend the reach of Tech-Up. Since 2018, the program has seen 3,000 teachers and 55,000 students engaged with free coding classes, computational-thinking workshops and other resources. The organization says the funding will enable it to reach tens of thousands more students and teachers across B.C.
It’s an investment that ensures kids are ready for the jobs of tomorrow, according to Tracy Redies, president and CEO of Science World. “65 percent of kids entering school today will work in jobs that do not yet exist, so it’s in all of our best interests to nurture the talent pipeline of the future,” she said in a statement.
As with many training programs, Tech-Up has been operating virtually through the pandemic. The program will now expand to offer a mix of in-school and in-building programming. “We need skilled people entering the workforce so Canada can compete and contribute on a global scale,” Redies added. “A part of this is ensuring that members of all communities in B.C. have access to this education.”