- Less than 2.4% of college students graduate with a degree in computer science
- Only 1/10 of organizations in Canada is able to meet critical IT needs in emerging areas like mobile, cloud computing, analytics and social media
- Highest demand for jobs in Canada is in the technology sector
University Computer Science departments from every Canadian province will celebrate Computer Science Education Week, in recognition of the transformative role of computing and the need to bolster computer science at all educational levels.
Hour of Code is a global movement designed to demystify code and show that anybody at any age can learn the basics of computer science. In schools and online across Canada, Microsoft, for example, will be connecting with curious and creative would-be coders throughout the week of December 8.
Microsoft, a founding partner in Code.org, is supporting this great initiative, and I had the opportunity to ask Susan Ibach, Senior Technical Evangelist, Microsoft Canada about its coding awareness efforts.
“As you know, Hour of Code sets students up to become future successes. It’s all about making coding attractive for young adults and fun for students and teaching them important life skills. Microsoft’s partnership with Code.org is part of Microsoft YouthSpark, a global effort to empower youth to do more and achieve more, including expanding access to computer science education.
“Mobilizing over 50 Microsoft employees, MVPs, MSPs have signed up to be trained and deployed to schools and to YouthSpark partner sites to lead an Hour of Code. Engaging with nineteen YouthSpark partners’ (Pathways to Education and Boys and Girls Clubs) sites in over 10 cities across Canada to have a Microsoft affiliated volunteer lead an Hour of Code.”
“In Canada, Microsoft supports efforts to expand access to STEM education by providing young people access to computer science education and supports non-profits do more and achieve more by providing over $45M in software and cash donations to YouthSpark partners and other non-profits in Canada.”
I asked Ms. Ibach her thoughts on which areas of programming are in most demand in Canada.
“For instance, the gaming industry continues to grow worldwide, and Canada has a number of big-name gaming studios such as Xbox Studios, Ubisoft and Bioware. There has also been an increase in the number of small and medium-sized gaming companies producing games for mobile devices and distribution platforms, such as Steam.”
“There is also a demand in web development, as companies are working hard to keep up with the need to support their websites on a variety of different mobile devices.”
“More basic applications, such as payroll and order systems, are needed to run businesses – many enterprises still have entire IT departments who focus on creating and maintaining software applications that are essential to running the business.”
“Cloud is also changing the architecture that companies are using, so this has opened up opportunities for programmers as the cloud doesn’t pose restrictions on the programming language used.”
“One of the great things about learning coding is the basics are the same in all programming languages – after you learn your first programming language, it’s easier to learn the next.”
I asked Ms. Ibach about ongoing Canadian education opportunities that are available, too.
“There are colleges and universities across Canada offering both full-time and continuing education courses on a variety of computer science topics,” Ibach began.
“There are programs on everything from game design programs, to Computer Science, to Web development and graphic design.”
“There are also many online resources you can use to teach yourself programming such as the Microsoft Virtual Academy, a site that offers online Microsoft training delivered by experts to help technologists continually learn, with hundreds of courses, in 14 different languages. Courses are free of charge and include options such as the Introduction to Python.”
There are some great Canadian opportunities to start learning how to code this week and beyond. Get coding, Canada!