Response to IT sector needs welcomed by industry

CNA to launch new Software Development (Co-op) program in 2020

10/3/2019 1:03:35 PM

ST. JOHN’S, NL – When Stephen Warren heard the news that local technology company, Verafin, had signed the largest venture capital deal in Canadian history last week, he knew the planning and work that has gone into a new Software Development (Co-op) program at College of the North Atlantic (CNA) was about to get real.

Warren, the Dean of CNA’s School of Business and Information Technology (IT), said the timing for this news couldn’t have been better. It falls in line with what the college and industry leaders from the IT sector had envisioned for CNA’s latest industry-driven software development program, set to start in the fall of 2020. Extensive consultations took place with 35 companies ranging from small businesses to large corporations, both public and private. This program represents the largest project Warren’s IT team has worked on, and is also one they are most excited about, especially when emerging labour market data supported all their efforts.

“My advisory committee, everything we have heard from government’s The Way Forward strategy, and everything we have heard from NATI (Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Technology Industries), as the sector’s largest lobby group, has indicated that the number one in-demand area right now is software development and software programmers,” said Warren. “We have been told that between the private and public institutions, we are not putting out enough graduates to meet the needs of industry, so this is College of the North Atlantic’s answer to that. The top three things we heard from industry were: the program had to be practical, it had to have a large work-integrated learning component, and it had to incorporate a wide variety of programming languages.”

Brendan Brothers, Verafin Co-founder, said his company has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years. One of its biggest challenges in scaling products to meet customer demand is simultaneously scaling its number of skilled employees.

“While we consistently recruit new employees from local public and private schools, we must still look outside the province, both to bring Newfoundlanders home and to draw new national and international talent,” said Brothers. “We plan to hire hundreds of new software developers in the coming years, and we are thrilled that CNA’s new Software Development (Co-op) program will encourage students to explore this career path. We need to see the number of local developers entering the workforce grow, not just for Verafin, but for the dozens of other high-tech companies that can achieve similar success.”

Paul Preston, NATI’s Chief Executive Officer, is also on board in the support of this new program, given the fact the number one challenge facing the technology and innovation sector in the province is talent acquisition.

“If our companies are going to grow and scale, and ultimately stay here, we need to fuel the talent pipeline,” said Preston. “The Software Development (Co-op) program at CNA is an important part of the equation to support local firms and overall sector growth. The technology and innovation sector in this province has an incredible potential for growth, but that growth is being limited by a lack of available talent that can join our local companies.”

NATI is focused on changing that by helping to create new possibilities for the technology and innovation economy, said Preston.

About the program
The Software Development (Co-op) program is set to debut in the fall of 2020 at the Corner Brook and Prince Philip Drive, St. John’s campuses. It is a three-year program, broken down into two years of practical training, where students build their knowledge base, and three paid work terms, where they will test what they’ve learned.

“It is focused on the programming languages; it’s light on theory and business. This is very much a practical software development program. Employers can expect graduates who can code on day one,” Warren explained.

The added bonus for this program, he noted, is the learning curve. The stress and anxiety experienced by many after graduation, when they move from being a student to an employee, will be minimized because they will have already spent three semesters in the workforce.

For more information on CNA’s Business and Information Technology programs, visit

Media contact:

Michelle Barry
Communications Manager
College of the North Atlantic