In today's fast-changing digital landscape, it is crucial for children to learn how to safely navigate the internet, especially as cybercrime becomes increasingly prevalent. Unfortunately, children can both be victims and perpetrators of cybercrime, and Canada experienced nearly 33,000 reported cybercrimes in 2018 alone. With the global cost of cybercrime predicted to reach a staggering $6 trillion USD in 2021 and Canada ranking as the third most exposed country to cybercrime, educating children about cybersecurity and raising awareness of its importance in our digital society has become more critical than ever.
At ICTC (Information and Communication Technology Council), we are committed to equipping K-12 students with essential digital skills while addressing the challenges faced by underrepresented groups in accessing quality digital education. Girls, Indigenous youth, and students in rural, remote, and Northern communities often face significant barriers to pursuing digital education. Our programs aim to promote inclusivity and break down these historical barriers, ensuring equal access and opportunities for all.
Bridging the Digital Divide: How ICTC Empowers K-12 Students
At ICTC, we are committed to equipping K-12 students with essential digital skills while addressing the challenges underrepresented groups face in accessing quality digital education. Girls, Indigenous youth, and students in rural, remote, and Northern communities often face significant barriers to pursuing digital education. Our programs aim to promote inclusivity and break down these historical barriers, ensuring equal access and opportunities for all. ICTC initiatives like the Jump-Starting Digital Careers (JDC) program, supported by the Government of Canada’s CanCode initiative, ICTC plays a vital role in bridging the digital divide and empowering students.
ICTC's JDC program is a catalyst for transformative change, preparing students for future digital careers by aligning with provincial curricula, integrating with existing education, and providing diverse technology career pathways. Since its inception in 2017, the JDC program has made a significant impact. It reached over 67,731 students and involved 6,442 teachers from 363 schools across Canada. By offering more than 10,000 hours of student training and over 2,000 hours of teacher training, ICTC has successfully contributed to improve job preparedness for youth in an increasingly digital-led economy and driving inclusivity in the education system.
Promoting Inclusivity: Empowering Underrepresented Groups
ICTC's commitment to inclusivity is exemplified by ICTC’s participation in International Girls in ICT Day, which features exclusive training, customized workshops, and presentations by inspiring female role models in the ICT field. Since November 2017, the JDC program has successfully engaged over 34,000 girls, which represents a remarkable 54% of total participation. This accomplishment highlights the transformative power of dedicated initiatives for creating equal opportunities.
In rural, remote, and Indigenous communities, we collaborate closely with educational institutions and Indigenous communities to deliver JDC programs. Meaningful collaborations ensure authentic cultural representation and connections. By celebrating cultural heritage and incorporating STEM-based activities, live robotics workshops, and consultations, we empower Indigenous youth to embrace their traditions while exploring the vast career potential of the digital realm. Enhanced career exploration opportunities and active promotion of Indigenous employment in the ICT sector further prepare these students for the workforce. The JDC program has witnessed the enthusiastic participation of 29,165 students from Indigenous and rural/remote communities, representing a notable 44.5% of all participants.
Furthermore, we have collaborated with educational partners to create specialized digital skills programming for students with disabilities, expanding their opportunities and enhancing their digital literacy. So far, more than 4,654 students with disabilities have taken part in the JDC program,. resulting in an increase in representation of these students to 6.8% from 6%.
ICTC’s JDC program also fosters greater socioeconomic inclusion. Students from underrepresented groups learn digital literacy skills, expertise in cybersecurity coding, and an understanding of digital citizenship, allowing them to confidently navigate the digital landscape. These invaluable digital skills prepare students for the evolving global economy.
Supporting Tomorrow’s Workforce: Investing in the Digital Sector
Continuing to empower K-12 in the digital economy is a critical step toward building a more inclusive and prosperous digital ecosystem. By ensuring that every K-12 student has equal access to digital skills and opportunities, regardless of their background, we foster a society where no one is left behind in the digital age. Canada’s commitment to investing in youth is crucial to nurturing the next generation of digital leaders who will shape the future where every student thrives and contributes to a flourishing digital economy. JDC programs play a central role in revolutionizing education, driving inclusivity, and empowering K-12 students nationwide.