Preparing high school students for the new economy

Originally posted: July 12, 2022

A unique early college/high school program delivered by Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT) and Pembina Trails School Division, in partnership with Tech Manitoba, is answering the “help wanted” call in Canada for thousands of people interested in careers in cybersecurity and web development.

Moderately speaking, the demand for digitally skilled talent in Canada is expected to reach more than 305,000 by 2023, according to ICTC. The timing for Pembina Trails Early College (PTEC) education program couldn’t be better as it fast-tracks high school students into new-collar jobs in tech.

David Moyer is one of the eighteen students in PTEC’s first graduating class. Having completed his high school diploma from Pembina Trails School Division in June 2022, he is now gaining real-world industry skills during a seven-week placement with industry – the final requirement to earn his post-secondary Software Developer Diploma from MITT. Moyer is working at Bit Space Development’s interactive digital media studio alongside software developers and other post-secondary students in their new virtual production studio that specializes in creating innovative learning experiences for the classroom and workplace.

Moyer says he’s excited to be learning next-level mixed reality, and how it applies in the virtual world. “I’ve always had a passion for games when I was younger, and when I initially started PTEC I really wanted to go into game design. But over the years of PTEC, I realized that I just liked software development in general, the process of taking something and giving it life. At Bit Space, I get the chance to work with virtual reality technology which has always marveled me, and am getting the experience of the industry first-hand. Over my short time here, I’ve enjoyed every day, even through the learning curves.”

Daniel Blair, Owner & CEO of Bit Space Development (BSD) has been a Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT) industry partner and mentor for six years. Blair says the PTEC model gives companies like his access to a home-grown and diverse talent pool trained in on-demand skills for available positions.

 

Blair commented, “The students that come out of the programs at MITT are well trained and ready to work, BSD has had the privilege to work with MITT students over the years and we proudly have employed many of these students after graduation. The programming being offered through these courses is a big part of what helps us compete as a leader in the immersive technology space. BSD is proud to partner with MITT and continue creating opportunities for students and graduates from these programs.”

PTEC reinvents high school education as we know it through an innovative model that’s providing high school students with academic, technical, and professional skills and industry-recognized credentials for competitive tech jobs in Manitoba. At the end of the program, students intern with top tech companies to further their learning in ‘new collar’ skills in the digital workforce.

The early college model enables youth to graduate with both their high school diploma and a post-secondary credential by the end of grade 12 due to the unique dual credit structure of the program which allows the credits taught at MITT to be applied to both the high school and post-secondary levels. Before entering MITT at the start of Grade 11, students choose to specialize in one of two streams: Software Developer or Network and Systems Administrator (NSA). Seven of the Grade 12 NSA students have also elected to continue their post-secondary education at MITT and spend an additional year completing the Cyber Defence and Cloud Administration program, applying the credits they earned in PTEC towards one year of the two-year program.

Ray Karasevich, President and CEO of MITT emphasized that this educational model is so groundbreaking that no other dual credit program like it exists on the Prairies. Karasevich added, “We’re proud of the PTEC partnership because it enables students to explore their passion for technology and prepares them for success in whatever career path they choose. The world is digital so whether they continue their post-secondary education journey or move directly into the workforce, we know they have the relevant, transferable skills they need and employers demand.”

The program ensures that students have supports to graduate high school and be career-ready or continue their pathway in education. The model combines rigorous coursework with workplace experiences that include industry mentoring, work placement, and first-in-line job considerations with industry partners.

Jane Bachart, Principal, PTEC said the program has a real impact on students’ trajectory, and on where their lives go after they leave high school. Bachart added, “The transformative impact PTEC has had on students and their families is truly inspiring. Before PTEC, students interested in computer sciences had few, if any choices. In this program, not only have they developed incredible skills, they’ve also discovered a community of peers with whom they will have lasting relationships.”

Marie Hacault, Youth Program Manager, Tech Manitoba, who coordinates industry participation within the partnership said, “Thanks to the generosity and depth of knowledge of individuals within the Manitoba tech sector I was able to connect PTEC learners with industry mentors, providing students with invaluable experiences that will enhance their future tech careers.”

For more information on Pembina Trails Early College, please visit their website.

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