FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has launched the Centre of Excellence for Digital Innovation. It is designed to give students the chance to explore different career paths and get hands-on learning experiences.

The centre is being initially funded by the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour and the federal government, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). Other funding streams are being developed with the support of industry partners.

“It is important that students gain the proper knowledge and skillsets that will prepare them for life after graduation,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Bill Hogan. “This new centre will do just that by helping students develop skills and interest in the fast-growing workforce that is technology driven.”

Through the centre, students will explore careers within the information and technology sector and use technology to enhance their creative expression. They will also learn how they can use technology to support entrepreneurial ventures or solve real-world challenges in their schools and communities. For example, how to build a community webpage.

“The relevance of the digital industry in our labour market continues to grow, and that will carry into the future,” said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder. “We are proud to support this centre, which will be important for exposing our future workforce to what this key industry has to offer.”

The centres provide teachers with resources, support, practice and training to enhance their instruction – whether they are teaching online or in-person.

“Improving access to technology and digital learning services strengthens our communities while diversifying our economy,” said Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin. “Federal support for this fourth centre of excellence demonstrates our commitment to nurture innovation in our youth and build an inclusive and dynamic workforce of the future.”

Atwin attended the launch event for for Official Languages Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, who is also the minister responsible for the ACOA.

Through ACOA, the federal government is contributing $354,650 to the project.

The model allows industry leaders to partner with the department and share their expertise in developing resources, site visits to familiarize students with new technologies and help them discover their interests. Partners for the new centre include:

·         New Brunswick Community College;

·         St. Thomas University;

·         McKenna Institute;

·         TechImpact;

·         Brilliant Labs;

·         Atlantic Canadian Aerospace and Defence Association; and

·         Information Communication Technology Council.

The centre of excellence model is part of the Future New Brunswick initiative intended to provide all students a chance to engage in experiential learning prior to graduation.