CALGARY -- SAIT announced the opening of its new School for Advanced Digital Technology in downtown Calgary on Wednesday as a flagship initiative of the institution's five-year strategic plan, New World, New thinking.

The School of Advanced Digital Technology will be located in the historic Odd Fellows building downtown and funded by a $30-million donation to SAIT from Calgary businessman and philanthropist, David Bissett.

The school will fast-track digital learning through newly-created programs combining digital literacy, technology education, professional studies and corporate training.

“Our goal is to ensure students, whether they are career starters, or career changers, have the digital literacy, personal agility and entrepreneurial spirit to succeed in a future powered by technology,” said SAIT president and CEO, Dr. David Ross, in a release.

"SAIT is committed to being part of rebuilding our economy, and through the School for Advanced Digital Technology, we are creating a tech-savvy talent pipeline, positioning SAIT graduates as the ones to hire and Calgary as a city that can meet the talent needs of any business."

Wednesday’s announcement also introduced additional support from Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF).

OCIF will provide SAIT with up to $8.2 million over five years to address the significant shortage of tech talent in Calgary at the new SAIT Digital Transformation (DX) Talent Hub.

“This is exactly the type of forward-thinking investment that our city needs. The DX Hub is going to train the type of talent that companies need to succeed in the new economy," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who is a member of the OCIF board of directors. 

“If we are looking to solve the world’s biggest problems, having the ecosystem of talent and opportunity is the best way to prepare for that task.” 

SAIT is also working with Ryerson University's Diversity Institute and TECHNATION to expand its Advanced Digital and professional training (ADaPT) program to recent post-secondary graduates.

The ADaPT program is free to accepted students and is funded by the Government of Canada.

“We are pleased to bring the ADaPT program to SADT and to partner with SAIT and TECHNATION to provide skills training and digital competencies to young people to improve their chances of employment and meet the skills gap shortage employers are facing," said Dr. Wendy Cukier, founder and academic director of the Diversity Institute.

“Unprecedented numbers of employers transitioned to online and remote work environments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which further highlights the necessity for digital skills and amplified which groups are left behind when it comes to technology and skills.”

The SAIT School for Advanced Digital Technology is expected to open in January 2021.