Bill Hogan, New Brunswick's minister of education and early childhood development, speaks at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B. on Dec. 2, 2022.

New Brunswick’s department of education and early childhood development announced on Dec. 2 it will launch a hands-on learning centre designed to give students the chance to explore different careers.

The Centre of Excellence for Digital Innovation is the fourth centre of its kind in New Brunswick. The other three are for health, energy and entrepreneurship.

Bill Hogan, New Brunswick’s minister of education and early childhood development, told reporters on Dec. 2  that digital innovation is essential to enhance students’ opportunities in later job opportunities.

“The jobs tomorrow aren’t even invented today,” he said. “I think it’s important that we prepare our students for tomorrow and in doing that, we have to be more than capable to deal with the ever-changing world of technology.”

Hogan added the centre will provide expertise in various sectors like aerospace, cybersecurity, coding and programming, and will set up students for success in their future careers.

The centre will be mostly virtual and there is no launch date as of yet, but Hogan said all students in the province from Anglophone schools will have access to it. 

Jenica Atwin, Fredericton’s member of parliament, speaks at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Fredericton, N.B. in this file photo from Sept. 20, 2021. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

Jenica Atwin, Fredericton’s member of parliament, told an audience in the off-campus lounge at James Dunn Hall that the federal government is contributing $354,650 towards the centre.

“The new centre will give students from kindergarten to grade 12 an opportunity to learn about digital technology and help them prepare for careers in the digital sector,” she said.

Atwin said Canada will continue to invest in students’ skills so they can get good-paying jobs and contribute to their communities.

“We know that it’s important now than ever to ensure that businesses have access to the skilled workers they need to prosper, grow and compete,” she said.

Adrienne Oldford, executive director of the McKenna Institute, said the institute partnered with the provincial government to develop this model for digital education. 

The institute received an anonymous donation of $1 million, which Oldford said is how it got involved with the centre in the first place. 

She said Matt McGuire, mechanic fellow in digital education at the McKenna Institute, also influenced the decision of getting involved with the centre. McGuire researched the competencies students need after graduating from high school. 

“We’ve been really proud of the work that he’s been doing and the way that he’s supporting projects,”  said Oldford.

“We’re seeing the investment there so that teachers going into the school system have the ability to utilize technology and have the right competencies and tools to integrate it into curriculum delivery.”

Ryan Sullivan, St. Thomas University’s associate vice-president of enrollment management, speaks at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B. on Dec. 2, 2022. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

Ryan Sullivan, St. Thomas University’s associate vice-president of enrollment management, said in an interview with The Aquinian that the university’s partnership with the centre is providing expertise through its faculty.  

Sullivan said STU recognizes the importance of the digital world and the centre will help connect teachers and students from schools to the university.

“Any type of opportunity to facilitate exchange between students, teachers and our faculty is what we’re looking for,” he said.