Pasqua businessman building IT careers
- Jeanelle Mandes | August 21, 2017
A company that aims to train and hire Indigenous employees in information technology is looking to expand. Denis Carignan is a member of the Pasqua First Nation and also serves as the first President and Chief Operating Officer (CEO) of Professional Aboriginal Testing Organization Inc. (PLATO) Testing which is a software testing company.
“We are a company of professional software testing that’s created to train and employ Indigenous Canadians to be professional software testers,” he said. “Software testing as an industry tends to get sent overseas…why couldn’t we send this kind of work to northern Saskatchewan, northern Ontario or more remote parts of Canada and have the work done by a trained Canadian workforce and that’s what we’re doing.”
The company is 18-months old and the company was created by a discussion between Carignan and Keith McIntosh from New Brunswick on ways to create employment opportunities and build wealth for Indigenous Canadians. June 2015, the duo came up with the idea of building a company that provides opportunities for Indigenous peoples to have careers in information technology.
PLATO Testing has over 60 well-trained and full-time testers—all from Indigenous backgrounds.
“PLATO Testing still has a 95% Indigenous workforce,” he said. “After 18 months of operation, we are already one of the largest employers of Indigenous IT Professionals in Canada. We hope to be the largest testing organizations in Canada [with over] 1000 employee Indigenous .”
PLATO Testing company also developed their own training course in partnership with Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI) from New Brunswick and Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (CCNB).
“This course, the first of its kind in North America, was first piloted in September of 2015,” he said. “Six months later…PLATO Testing began operations with 12 Indigenous software testers working alongside the testing experts at PQA Testing.”
After the training is completed, the testers go through a two-month paid internship and once they pass the course, they are offered permanent employment with the company.
“Our goal is think there’s enough work in Canada to have a testing organization and that it will grow to over a thousand people,” Carignan said.
PLATO Testing’s head office is in New Brunswick and with some operations in British Columbia. The company is looking to expand into southern Alberta later this year and with hopes of opening up in Ontario next year.
Since Carignan is from Saskatchewan and two of the company’s testers are from Keeseekoose and Cote First Nation, he would like to see the company expanding within the province in the future. “It’s an area that there aren’t as many First Nations, Metis and Inuit people that go into information technology and we’re trying to do our part to change that,” he said.
Visit platotesting.com for further information on the company’s training, employment and expansion.