FREDERICTON (GNB) – CyberLaunch Academy, a new initiative from CyberNB, was launched today. It aims to promote science and technology to elementary, middle and high school students to help them prepare for the high-tech workplace skills of the future.
“We are preparing the next generation to contribute to New Brunswick’s economic growth,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “Demand for high-skilled workers worldwide will continue to grow, as will New Brunswick’s reputation as a leader in cyber security. We need to ensure that our youth have the right education and training to fill these jobs.”
Earlier this year, Opportunities NB launched CyberNB, a plan aimed at building a world-class industry cluster and enhancing workforce development, education and cybersecurity research in the province. The development of a cybersecurity educational pipeline is one of the priorities in the plan. The plan also includes initiatives designed to increase access to cyber education and training from elementary and secondary schools, postgraduate university education and research, through to lifelong, on-the-job education and training.
CyberLaunch Academy will assist in accomplishing the plan by promoting science and technology among school students, reducing gender imbalance in this field and building a high level of proficiency in computer science among its trainees.
“Our strategy is specifically designed to increase interest in science and technology among elementary, middle and high school-aged students and to encourage youth to seek further technology training at New Brunswick’s many colleges and universities,” said Natalia Stakhanova, founder and president of the academy and also the NB Innovation Research Chair in Cyber Security at the University of New Brunswick.
Her approach to technology training is also aimed at making New Brunswick a leader in reducing gender imbalance in the fields of science and technology. Girls and boys will learn the same curriculum, but separately.
“Girls learn and understand material differently and tend to interact differently with each other in a learning environment,” said Stakhanova. “Through past experience I have found it beneficial to separate boys and girls. Unlike in mixed classes, where girls usually kept lower profiles, an all-girls environment turned them into inquisitive, curious and proactive learners.”
Stakhanova places a high priority on the skills-building component in the academy curriculum.
“Currently the majority of computer science programs in North American universities are designed to teach basic skills such as coding during the first years of school,” she said. “Our objective is to provide this training to school-age children. This will give them a competitive advantage later in life when they enter the job market or enroll in science and technology programs at universities.”
Opportunities NB is supporting the initiative with a $75,000 non-repayable contribution and an $85,000 repayable loan.
Opportunities NB is a Crown corporation that seeks to attract and support opportunities to grow the economy and create jobs. It provides support services for businesses across the province.