Over the past year, the Canadian government has announced it was investing C$17.6 million over three years, starting in 2022 – 2023, to to help 100,000 Canadians gain the skills they need to participate in the digital economy. This funding was created through the Digital Literacy Exchange Program (DLEP), launched in 2018, which aims to equip Canadians with the necessary skills to engage with technology securely and effectively.

Moves like this are vital in order to keep up with the changing infrastructure and the integration of technology in essentially every aspect of life. A 2019 study from Randstad found that 60 per cent of Canadians believe digitization will require them to learn new skills. This was two per cent higher than the global average. In addition, 75 per cent want to learn more digital skills to advance their career. 

And while lots of work has been done to upskill the Canadian public, upskilling the entire country won’t be done without work within government sectors as well. 

In a response to a query from IT World Canada, a spokesperson from the Government of Canada said, “Canadians expect government services to be delivered in a digital way and we need in-house digital talent and leadership to meet this expectation.”

The government added that it is focused on designing approaches and processes to help recruit, retain, and further develop the skills of digital talent in the federal public sector. They said there’s been a strategy in place for several months, and that the government plans to continue to develop it. 

A 2022 article from Policy Options noted that the Government of Canada’s chief information officer (CIO), Catherine Luelo, said they were in need of technology workers. At the time, she said there was a 30 per cent shortage of staff among the government’s 21,000 IT jobs, which equates to about 7,000 unfilled positions.

Upskilling government employees has been a discussion point for years now. In 2016, the White House claimed that the U.S. federal government needed an additional 10,000 IT and cybersecurity professionals. In 2018, it reiterated its problem, saying it had a shortage of workers in the areas of data analysis, cybersecurity, and other IT disciplines.

For Jeremy Frohlich, chief operating officer of LRDG, a language learning company for French and English, upskilling within the government won’t be possible without the help of other organizations.

Jeremy Frohlich, COO of LRDG

LRDG is currently working with the Government of Canada to help employees with their language skills through an online, e-learning course. 

“We’re teaching them advanced professional English and French. When they get to a certain level of mastery of the language, then we get them to pass a test,” Frohlich explained.

The LRDG program allows government employees in Canada to access its online platform, which gives users materials and modules while also managing all aspects of training.

Frohlich adds that whether it’s upskilling for technology or language training, progress can only be made with the help of other organizations.

“No organization should exclusively limit themselves to what they can do internally. They have to look outside,” he said.

He says that governments just aren’t capable of handling all their training needs for a multitude of reasons. 

“And we’re just languages. Let’s be honest, if they need management training, executive training, communication training, they can’t do everything internally. So having a training budget with a learning plan that integrates into their real environment [will be helpful].”  

While Frohlich’s company works to teach organizations French and English, WithYouWithMe (WYWM), an upskilling company dedicated to helping governments and organizations with their digital skills, is also working with the Canadian government. WYWM has facilities in Ottawa, Washington, London and Sydney.

“We’ve been doing this for a couple years now. We’ve probably already trained up like 1000 public servants. We’re a trusted solution for the federal government,” said Caleb Walker, senior vice president, strategic pursuits at WYWM.

Caleb Walker, SVP, strategic pursuits at WYWM

According to Walker, many governments pay for training, but it fails to actually result in a successful outcome. 

“The way we upskill is that we try and work out what job you’re gonna do. What are you trying to accomplish? And then we’ll work on a practicum where you can prove that you can do that job. And work out what training you need to do to get ready,” he explained.

For example, WYWM partnered with The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to develop a National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) for a government in the Pacific Islands. Local government workers were aptitude tested and over 60 top performers were trained in cyber security on WYWM’s platform, under the mentorship of WYWM Cyber Security Specialists.

The NCSC is now a fully operational Cyber Force, capably staffed by local nationals, that provides robust cyber protocols and protection.

“In big organizations, they need skills frameworks, that’s the first thing, and then once we know the skills framework that they need, it’s relatively easy to map out skills that they need for that capability,” Walker said. “Then almost automate on what training they should do. That’s where the Australian Government’s kind of gone and this is where the U.K. governments will go, and the Canadian government, we’re trying to get them to do that.”

As of now, the Canadian government has implemented some steps to upskill its workforce. In an announcement regarding Canada’s Digital Ambition 2022, Mona Fortier, P.C. M.P. and president of the Treasury Board, stated, “Under the leadership of the chief information officer of Canada, guided by the government priorities outlined in my mandate letter, the GC’s Digital Ambition provides a clear, long-term strategic vision for the Government of Canada to advance digital service delivery, cyber security, talent recruitment, and privacy.

“The GC’s Digital Ambition will provide a solid foundation for the ever-evolving digital transformation of government.”

The post Digital upskilling: How is the Canadian Government upskilling its own employees? first appeared on IT World Canada.

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