Tech Skills and Canadian Workforce Development

NPower Canada helping individuals grow skills and companies gain workers

Work Education Canada Blueprint 2021 - 2024 (projected)

NPower Canada is working to prevent the financial marginalization of at-risk individuals through training for jobs in the IT sector. The academic team and Blueprint are engaged in evaluating the model NPower Canada uses to deliver its youth programs.

NPower Canada offers free digital skills training to unemployed and underemployed job seekers across Canada. Originally developed to serve at-risk youth, the NPower program is now available to adults of all ages. The model is designed to benefit both its unemployed or under-employed participants and companies with unfilled, entry-level ICT jobs. The learning opportunity provides job seekers three months of training via the Junior IT Analyst Program and the Junior Data Analyst Program.

The data generated by the evaluation will inform decision-making around replicating the program in other jurisdictions, scaling it up while introducing program adjustments to improve its efficacy and outcomes. One program adjustment, the shift from an in-person to a hybrid delivery model in March 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, has already been evaluated.

To complete the program evaluation, Blueprint will conduct an RCT to examine several program outcomes, including past participant employment, enrollment in continuing education, earnings, and job quality.

As the academic partners, Matthew Notowidigdo of the University of Chicago and Kory Kroft of the University of Toronto combine participant survey results with government administrative data. In addition to looking at outcomes, the research partners will perform a cost-benefit analysis and develop a theoretical job search model. The study will examine the increased participant income levels, relative to the cost to deliver the NPower Canada program, compared to other job skills training options.

“Kory’s enthusiasm is contagious. It’s very motivating when he comes into a meeting and tells us how excited he is about the data and about the project. We appreciate working with him so much.”

Heather MacArthur, Senior Associate, Blueprint

While the RCT is still underway, a previous evaluation of the program conducted by Blueprint showed promising evidence of program effectiveness:

  • By the end of the first year of NPower Canada’s program, 85% of participants in the first cohort took on new employment or enrolled in higher education within 11 months of finishing.
  • For the second cohort of graduates, it took just 7 months for 85% of them to take on new employment or to enroll higher education.
  • Within just 4 months, 68% of the third cohort of graduates had found jobs or enrolled in higher education.

The RCT is currently underway. The study, Dual-Client Workforce Development Model: NPower Canada Randomized Control Trial, is expected to complete in mid-2024.