Andrew Reddin is passionate about helping youth begin careers in the tech industry, especially those who have not had exposure to opportunities in the tech field.
Reddin is the Chief Operating Officer of NPower, which is a charity that helps underserved youth and adults find meaningful and sustainable careers in the tech industry.
“The young people who we serve…often haven’t been provided with much exposure to what tech pathways could look like,” Reddin said.
“When we explore the pathways with youth in more accessible language, give them more of a concrete sense of what the jobs look [like]…we can explore how tech can adapt to someone’s own aptitude and interests.”
NPower Canada offers no-cost, technical and professional skills training, industry certification and job placement support. It was founded in 2014 when there was a need for both skilled tech workers for employers and more job opportunities in the tech sector.
They prioritize working with youth who have directly faced systemic, intersectional barriers to launching careers in tech. This includes members of BIPOC communities, women, newcomers to Canada, LGBTQ+ youth, youth with disabilities and those who come from low-income backgrounds.
In the first full year of operation, NPower Canada helped 87 youth and this year has helped over 1400.
One of those people is Marco Chumacero. A 2020 alumnus of the NPower Google IT Certificate program, Chumacero is now a Bilingual Product Technician. Before taking the program, he worked for many years in the hospitality industry. During the pandemic, found himself in need of a change.
The Google IT Certificate program offered Chumacero more than just technical skills. One of his favourite aspects of the course was personal development days.
NPower program participants receive ongoing mentorship and continuing education for up to five years after placement.
“[Even] though [finding a job is] such a positive and exciting development, it comes from its own stressors. It is often a massive change in their day-to-day schedule and responsibilities,” Reddin said.
“We need to continue providing counseling, coaching, and support to ensure that our young people remain successful and they’re able to maintain their employment,” he said.
After seven months with his current company, Chumacero is already training new people. In the next few months, he is hoping to transition into a team lead position. Currently, he is working through a coding course and will be continuing his education with a Java course in January.
The NPower Canada program in Ontario has been based predominantly in the GTA, but they have had some success with job placements in Kitchener-Waterloo. Reddin explained that they are excited about making a bigger impact in KW in the future. They are hoping to address a broader range of employer demands in KW.
With two universities and a college in KW, Reddin stressed that NPower is not trying to compete with other programs.
NPower Canada hosts Wednesday webinars to help introduce young people to the NPower program. Find out more at https://npowercanada.ca/apply.