Much like BC’s most prominent technology (tech) companies, the BCIT School of Computing and Academic Studies shifted entirely to remote learning in response to the pandemic. The School successfully leveraged its strong ties to industry and cutting-edge technologies to deliver applied learning virtually.
In some ways, Computing and IT students benefited from the online approach and are better prepared to enter the workforce as a result. Looking back, what are the most valuable lessons to be learned, and what are the most in-demand skills for Computing and IT students looking ahead?
Meeting the demands of an ever-growing tech sector
The technology sector in BC has rapidly expanded in recent years, and now boasts more than 120,000 jobs across nearly 11,000 companies. With this vast growth, however, comes the challenge of supplying the insatiable demand for skilled talent, even during the pandemic.
Dean Hildebrand, Dean, School of Computing and Academic Studies, says BCIT has been active in addressing the growing need for workers.
“We (BCIT) are working closely with the tech sector to develop solutions, and in recent years, we have increased the number of seats in our Computing and IT programs in an effort to meet the growing demand.”
BCIT has long been a leader in workforce development, and as Dean points out, the School’s applied education is highly influenced by the needs of industry.
Digital transformation leads to new opportunities
Although the pandemic posed a massive and (mostly) negative shock to global economies, at the same time, it accelerated the adoption of new and existing technologies. The areas of e-commerce and video conferencing surged, for example, leading to massive growth opportunities.
As Dean explains, BCIT is uniquely positioned to prepare students during this ongoing digital transformation.
“Looking ahead, these companies will need graduates with the technical skills we provide here at BCIT,” says Dean.
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Dean also highlights the impressive shift of Computing and IT programs to 100 percent online learning after the shutdown.
“Our faculty, staff, and students successfully pivoted in a matter of days, which is really a testament to the Institute’s leading-edge training.”
Training students to help tackle a troubling trend
With the sharp and continual growth of e-commerce and remote work comes the increased exposure to fraud and cybersecurity breaches. These were of course problems before the pandemic, but as Dean explains, they have unfortunately become more prevalent.
“Things like phishing, baiting, and tech support scams have greatly increased during COVID-19,” says Dean. “And as more employees work from home and people spend more time online, they become more susceptible to these attacks.”
This has inevitably led to higher demand for cybersecurity professionals, and BCIT offers a range of cutting-edge cybersecurity programs.
Developing skilled and resilient graduates
With a sector as dynamic as technology, collaboration with industry is paramount to ensure Computing and IT programs are teaching relevant skillsets. When surveying companies or consulting Program Advisory Committees (PAC), Dean says technical skills are at the top of the list.
“Employers of course expect graduates to be well-versed in programming, database skills, and agile methodology, for example, all of which BCIT covers extensively,” says Dean.
He also says, however, that just as important as technical skills, are what some people now refer to as ‘power skills.’
“Tech firms greatly value skills like communication, problem-solving, teamwork, and leadership,” says Dean. “These skills are at the core of BCIT’s Computing and IT programs and will ultimately help graduates transition into the workforce.”
Learn more about pathways to pursue a successful career in Computing and IT.