Developing opportunities in a digital age

Developing opportunities in a digital age

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This is a guest post from Digital Nova Scotia
(Member since 2015)


Zack Metcalfe

Local non-profit encourages economic development in growing industry

When people think of Halifax, visions of a boat-littered waterfront, bustling downtown streets and friendly small-town folk are often what comes to mind. But tech and digital organizations hear the word Halifax and think: industry hub.

Not only are innovative tech startups calling Halifax the birthplace of their businesses, established organizations within the digital industry continue to
flock to our city. Since 1989 Digital Nova Scotia has been helping this industry take root and grow.

Digital Nova Scotia is a non-profit association that was once made up of volunteers and a few pioneering members with a singular purpose — grow the ICT and digital technologies sector in Nova Scotia. But like the industry it supports, this association has grown leaps and bounds, composed now of more than one hundred members and enjoying the benefits of four full-time employees. “We were initially created to promote the growth and development of the information technology industry in Nova Scotia by developing industry skills, sharing ideas, building alliances and promoting IT opportunities and events,” says CEO Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia. “It’s rare for an organization to be able to stand by their mandate for 28 years.”

As she explained it, the massive tech growth in Nova Scotia has left the industry in constant need of talent, which provincial education institutions have
been working hard to keep up with. In order to help meet the demand, Digital Nova Scotia partners regularly with post-secondary institutions and facilitators to build those skill sets in people. An example would be the One Journey program, offered in partnership with Nova Scotia Labour and Advanced Education and the Nova Scotia Community College.

This is a 12-week skills development program aimed at addressing the demand for entry-level programmers across the industry. What’s more, the program connects graduates with eager employers. Beyond that, they promote their industry in a variety of settings, calling attention to local businesses that might be well known on the global stage but are relatively unheard of among Nova Scotians. They also provide their members and the provinces’ $2.5 billion industry with advocacy and capacity building programs and collaborate on events, opportunities and initiatives. All told, this is one of the fastest growing sectors in the province, thanks in part to this association.

With the continued growth and development of the digital industry all but certain, its role in economic development cannot be overlooked, in Bahr-Gedalia’s considered opinion. If properly nurtured, it could provide countless employment opportunities for Nova Scotians trained and hired right here and make their work felt in a global market. The future of this digital industry is difficult to predict, even for those helping to shape it, so for Bahr-Gedalia and her colleagues, preparing for tomorrow means staying on their toes. “In order to meet the ever-growing, ever-changing needs of our industry, we need to remain dynamic, adaptable and collaborative. We are always working on new projects, proposals, and programs and you’ll have to follow us on social media or sign up for our newsletter to discover more!”

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