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Statistics Canada CANDEV Data Challenge


In October 2018, Statistics Canada in collaboration
with the University of Ottawa organized its 1st edition of the CANDEV Data Challenge. Under the umbrella of the StatCan Young Professionals
Network, the CANDEV team organized a 24 hour intensive programming event that was open
to all post-secondary students aged 18 years or older and enrolled in a Canadian institution. Close to 250 students participated in the
event with registrations coming from 9 different universities and colleges. 130 volunteers from the public service got
involved as organisers, mentors, judges, speakers or recruiters. 13 Government of Canada’s departments were
actively engaged in the project. The participating students had to solve complex
user story falling under themes like machine learning, data visualization, web scraping,
analytics, or application development. Every team benefitted from a mentoring session
given by a specialist from each participating department. The schedule included an information session
for the FSWEP targeted pool created especially for the event, which has seen many students
recruited for casual positions and full-time employment opportunities. There were also 5 technical workshops given
by public service employees on software like Power BI, R and Python. The first key objective of the CANDEV Data
Challenge is to strengthen the short and long term post-secondary recruitment strategy targeting
data and computer scientists. By involving various government departments,
Statistics Canada aims to build a nation-wide community of professionals engaged in data
science. This type of event is an example of leading
edge recruitment that is both attracting and perfecting the skills of the next generation
of professionals. The second is to continue the development
of a proven framework and build capacity for large-scale data challenges allowing an increase
of the Government of Canada’s visibility at the national level. The last objective is to develop and maintain
a partnership ecosystem with academia and government departments. Allowing the Government of Canada to accumulate
new solutions for business cases using new methods and platforms. To summarize, the outcomes of the Data Challenge
support the Open Government concept, providing all partnering departments with the opportunity
to seek new talent while simultaneously allowing them to find potential prototypes and new
solutions. The Data Challenge also showcases an attractive
real-time view of the public service providing opportunities for students to work in an agile,
inclusive and equipped Government of Canada. The CANDEV Data Challenge was an unprecedented
event that brought together academia and government in a unique synergy, with a focus on investing
in the next generation of students and ideas for a stronger, more prosperous Canada.

Stephen Childs

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