EDGE UP, under the leadership of Calgary Economic Development, is a multi-stakeholder program launched in Calgary in 2019 to test new approaches to skills development for technology jobs. Following a successful two-year pilot program, Future Skills Centre is investing almost $5.4 million for short-term skills development in the current EDGE UP 2.0 program. The program will train over 320 exceptional career transitioners displaced from the oil and gas sector for digital tech roles. In this blog series, we’ll introduce you to a few EDGE UP 2.0 students.

Monica Dang’s last job was with a Calgary-based oil and gas intermediate operating in Colombia. The EDGE UP 2.0 participant considers that and her 20 years of energy experience one of her strongest assets.

“That time in the industry taught me how to work with others, do conflict resolution, and even think out of the box sometimes,” she says.

“Your supervisor might give you directions, but if that doesn’t work, are you able to pivot and get to the right solution? So, it’s more than just thinking, ‘Well, she told me to do it this way.’ It’s about having the initiative and confidence to figure things out.”

Initiative and confidence are on clear display in Monica’s career path. Having started in oil and gas as a summer student with a liberal arts degree, she worked her way up the ranks. While working she studied at SAIT to get her geology/geophysical certification. In her last oil and gas role, she helped the Colombian producer grow from a startup to intermediate but eventually became less enamoured with the work.

“As the company grew, it was just no longer a fit for me,” she says.

A friend was part of the original EDGE UP pilot in 2020, so Monica asked her about her experience with it and decided to enroll in the IT Project Management stream.

Unlike the EDGE UP pilot, EDGE UP 2.0 now also includes a Work Integrated Learning (WIL Digital) placement. This wage-subsidized work opportunity (covering 75% of the participants salary up to $7500) reduces the risk of hiring digital talent for employers, allows them to sample a potential employee’s suitability while, at the same time, providing valuable work experience for the new EDGE UP 2.0 grad.

“Work integrated learning is very important and factored into my decision [to enroll in EDGE UP 2.0],” she says.

What didn’t factor into Monica’s decision was the often-reported lack of female gender representation in tech. For her, it’s just a move from one male-dominated industry to another—and gender representation in tech is improving.

“I see that more and more women are in tech, and there’s all sorts of women’s groups encouraging working in tech today.”

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