VIU answers industry appeal for specialized Information Technology and Applied Systems program offerings in the mid-Island area.

Two new information technology diploma programs are being offered at Vancouver Island University (VIU) to meet growing demand for skilled web and mobile developers and systems and networking administrators.

The Systems Administration and Networking diploma and the Web and Mobile Development diploma programs were developed in concert with local industry input to recognize the growth in the IT sector and need for skilled graduates who can fill the current and projected high demand job openings.

“Network and systems administrators are a key part of the IT workforce,” says Graham White, Chair of the Information Technology and Applied Systems (ITAS) department. “They keep a company’s network and computer systems up-to-date and operating efficiently in datacenters and in the cloud while implementing strong cybersecurity practices. Companies also need web and mobile developers to design and implement user-friendly web and mobile applications to ensure that their clients and customers can access their online services.”

VIU worked with local IT businesses and Vancouver Island technology councils to determine what skills graduating students require to support this rapidly advancing field.

“We have worked extensively with them to understand their needs and partner with them in facilitating work experiences for our students,” adds White. “Over 80% of ITAS graduates move right away into their first IT career opportunity and we see that trend continuing with the two new programs.”

VIU ITAS program students Noah Ellis and Lydia Sweety Inbaraj practice their skills on an IT network system

The ITAS Systems Administration and Networking program prepares students for careers in the design, installation, operation and administration of network and Internet-based information systems such as enterprise level operating systems, web servers, virtualization and cloud computing, e-mail systems and cybersecurity practices. The ITAS Web and Mobile Development program prepares students for careers in the design, implementation and testing of web and mobile software applications using languages such as PHP, JavaScript, Python, Apple Swift, HTML, CSS and database systems.

White says students in the program will learn to systematically analyze business, organization or societal needs, and then design, implement and test software and relevant information technologies to address those needs. Additionally, the course includes an entrepreneurial component during which students will develop customized software solutions that are tailored to a specific domain problem.

“A strong effort has been made to ensure that the programming languages, project management skills, and the applied experiential aspects reflect the employable skill sets that our industry partners identified,” adds White.

Eric Byres of aDolus Technology Inc. says with an advanced IT training and specialization program offering at VIU there will be real opportunities to both grow their team and expand the overall IT industry in the Nanaimo/Mid-island region.

“Our company supplies cybersecurity solutions for industries like medical and energy and has been hiring VIU ITAS students for over a decade to develop our software,” says Byres.  “Every student we’ve hired has started on day one armed with industry-ready IT skills and an outstanding work ethic. Each one has become a core part of our team and one has even become a renowned industry expert.”

Chris Oaten, Manager of IT and Learning, Innovation & Technology Team Lead with ETHOS Career Management Group Ltd., says the Web and Mobile Development diploma offering will fill a gap in the local talent pool.

“As both a 2016 ITAS graduate and manager responsible for hiring IT and development staff on the mid-Island, I am excited to see a diploma that covers both front-end and back-end development,” says Oaten. “Before this new option, ITAS focused on back-end development only, and many businesses – especially those with a small team like mine – do not have the capacity or budget to hire multiple developers on one product. This sector requires multi-faceted developers capable of taking a project from conception to client delivery, and the Web and Mobile Development diploma could not be better positioned to capture that industry need.”

WorkBC’s 2020 Labour Market Outlook is projecting 75,000 job openings province-wide over the next 10 years in the tech sector.

Graduates of the new ITAS programs will be qualified to work for Internet service providers, network design, installation, and support companies, web development and web-hosting companies, technology start-ups that require programming and database skills, private and public educational institutions and computer retailers and systems integrators.

Interested students can begin applying for the new ITAS diploma programs this October for a September 2021 start date.




Annette Lucas, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

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