How This Non-Profit Is Strengthening the Technology Workforce
Opportunities in the tech sector are growing, and so is Canada’s Aboriginal population. New Brunswick’s Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI) is not only training Aboriginal people to work in the tech sector, we are finding them jobs as well; both in New Brunswick’s world-class industry, and beyond.
With JEDI’s October 12th Plenary Navigating the Future in ICT fast approaching, we would like to highlight some of JEDI’s successful partnerships with New Brunswick’s tech sector, specifically IBM and PQA Testing/PLATO.
Jedi and IBM Create Opportunities for Aboriginal People
In April, five talented New Brunswick Aboriginal mobile app developers joined IBM as Information Technology Specialists at IBM’s Client Innovation Centre in Nova Scotia. Those five graduated from JEDI’s Mobile Application Development (MAD) program, part of the New Brunswick Aboriginal Information Communications Technology (NBAICT) project. MAD is a 57 week program designed by the Collège communautaire du Nouveau Brunswick (CCNB) in collaboration with JEDI.
Our President, Alex Dedam notes: “We are excited that five of our graduates have moved onto a large company like IBM. These students, from First Nation communities across the province, have devoted themselves to learning and we are proud to see all of their hard work pay off. We have worked closely with the IBM Client Innovation Centre during this time and it is exciting to see that a large IT company is interested in our graduates.”
IBM has been an incredible industry partner for JEDI. The Client Innovation Centre has offered input on the MAD curriculum, helped students with interview techniques, and provided them with a Centre tour before graduation. IBM has also been influential in the design of the current Big Data training program put on by JEDI and CCNB.
PQA/PLATO Bring Software Testing Jobs to New Brunswick
For more than 18 years PQA (Professional Quality Assurance) has provided quality assurance and software testing services to companies around the world. PQA and JEDI have created an exciting partnership that has already seen 33 Aboriginal people, from 10 different First Nation communities, trained and working as software testers in New Brunswick.
The successful graduates completed a two-month internship coupled with four months of classroom training. They were accepted into the course because of their logic and problem-solving skills, ability to communicate, understanding of basic computer skills, and a willingness to learn.
PQA’s sister company PLATO is a software testing company with a unique approach. It is specifically focused on developing and leveraging a network of Aboriginal software testers. Their growth plan involves training hundreds of Aboriginal people to become software testers across Canada.
In February, Keith McIntosh, PQA’s Founder, President, and Co-CEO told Opportunities NB: “The goal of PLATO is to be owned, operated, and staffed by Aboriginals. I own it now but the intention is to find partners within the Aboriginal community to take over ownership and leadership.”
Currently, PLATO has two offices in New Brunswick, one in Fredericton and a brand new office that just opened in Miramichi. Plans to fill these offices are ramping up as new software tester training classes are scheduled to start in Oct 2016 and Jan 2017. PLATO’s long-term plan includes opening more offices in multiple locations. Growth and expansion is key for them to compete in obtaining larger software testing contracts that are often outsourced to other countries like India.
Navigating the Future in ICT
JEDI’s plenary, themed Navigating the Future in ICT is an exciting one for us. JEDI has delivered several Information Communications Technology (ICT) training-to-employment programs and they have been received with glowing feedback from our students and industry partners alike. In partnership with our training providers, we have delivered courses in Mobile Application Development, Big Data, Network/Desktop Support, Smartphone Repair and Software Tester training. We will continue to offer training to the Aboriginal people of New Brunswick and we will continue to see our qualified and talented graduates being hired by growing technology companies.
During this upcoming plenary, we will showcase some of the graduates and they will share their experiences on how our program has changed their lives and encouraged them to mentor others.
JEDI is also pleased to announce our Plenary keynote speaker, Mr. John Bernard from Madawaska Maliseet First Nation. Mr. Bernard is an established entrepreneur who made his start in the tech sector. After joining Systems Interface, he established Donna Cona Inc. with the intention of providing opportunities for Aboriginal people in the high tech industry. As a result of its success, Mr. Bernard has been able to move back to New Brunswick and operate his business from here. He has also been able to pursue other opportunities and is the proud owner of the state-of-the-art Grey Rock Casino.
We invite members of the tech community to join us as we discuss the highly skilled Aboriginal people of NB who are coming out of our culturally enhanced ICT training. This is a great opportunity to make new connections in the Aboriginal communities, chat with people in the industry, and meet the JEDI team.
JEDI Networking Reception (October 11, 2016):
6:30pm – 8:30pm, Crowne Plaza, 659 Queen St, Fredericton
JEDI Plenary (October 12, 2016):
9:00am – 3:00pm, The Richard J. Currie Centre, 15 Peter Kelly Dr, Fredericton
To register for these FREE events: http://www.jedinb.ca/jedi-plenary.html
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