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Pivoting mid-career to make the most of changing circumstances and new opportunities is required at times and can be invigorating. 

It’s also easier said than done; at least without some help.

With unprecedented innovation and the application of advanced technology underpinning the future of all industry, many professionals find themselves needing to upskill or retrain to keep pace with a changing workplace in this digital economy.

The evolution of Calgary’s economy – in particular, lower employment in a leaner and more cost-focused energy sector – prompted RainForest Alberta, Calgary Economic Development and the Hunter Family Foundation to launch EvolveU for people looking to pivot their careers.

EvolveU will offer opportunities to learn relevant and in-demand skills across data, design, business and technology. The program combines a practical curriculum with onsite mentoring, peer-to-peer learning experiences, and personalized career coaching.

The courses are offered online and in classrooms and will have a limited number of spaces. The program is targeting adult learners who are unable to commit to or afford traditional programs but seek to upgrade their technology-oriented skills.

Calgary is home to one of the highest educated and STEM-oriented workforces in Canada but a lot of the skill set has been focused on the energy sector. Most cities Calgary competes with to attract investment in Canada have at least 50 per cent of their tech talent in software development and related fields but it is about half that in Calgary.

Even with stubbornly high unemployment, a number of leading companies are challenged because they can’t get the specific tech talent. It’s important to remember this issue applies to all companies. These days, tech isn’t a sector but an element of all industries.

To help address the situation, EvolveU will accept the first cohort of students for its inaugural Full-Stack Developer Program this September. The full-time, six-month program is focused on practical application and work-readiness and will provide students with project-based experiences.  Other courses are also in development.

Building an agile and innovative workforce is critical to Calgary’s economic prosperity. By collaborating with employers such as Benevity, ATB Financial and TELUS, the program ensures learners are acquiring in-demand transferable skills.

“As a Calgary-based software company, we’ve found it challenging to find enough people with the skill sets to fill our product development and technology operations roles.” says Vivian Farris, VP People at Benevity, a company at the forefront of the digital disruption. “We look forward to working with EvolveU to foster much needed skills in the Calgary tech community.”

As it prepares for launch of the first cohort in September, EvolveU is holding an information session for Calgarians on May 22. Details are available on the EvolveU website.

Today’s workforce is as diverse as the economy and Calgary’s post-secondary institutions are also offering curriculum tailored to the new labor market. The ability to evolve with the changing workplace is a critical skill and it’s equally as important that there are options available for people to acquire the skill sets they need while still earning a living.


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