PLATO Testing, Canada’s only Indigenous-led and staffed software testing company, is celebrating the new year with a significant investment of $500,000 from investment firm Raven Indigenous Capital Partners. The funding will support the training and employment of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students as software testers, boosting the Indigenous economy and creating jobs from coast to coast.
With its unique train-and-employ model, PLATO Testing is changing the face of technology in Canada. Since launching in 2015, PLATO has held 15 training programs and trained more than 175 Indigenous students in software testing, creating a significant impact in over 50 communities and injecting almost $8 million directly into the Indigenous economy.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the PLATO Testing training program has continued. In November, the first-ever hybrid in-person/virtual class began in Sault Ste. Marie and Regina. Students receive five-months of in-class training on the fundamentals of software testing, then undertake a three-month internship with one of Canada’s leading corporations.
Following the successful completion of the program, students are guaranteed full-time, stable jobs with PLATO Testing. With corporate partners including Suncor and FortisBC, PLATO Testing is introducing some of the country’s industry leaders to the capabilities of Indigenous technology workers.
“Since inception, PLATO has demonstrated a singular commitment to lifting up Indigenous Peoples by providing low barrier pathways to skills development and careers in the technology sector,” said Jeff Cyr, Managing Partner of Raven Indigenous Capital Partners. “Raven is excited to support the next phase of PLATO’s growth and development as it scales across Canada.”
The Raven Capital investment will support PLATO’s future growth as it expands into other regions of the country to provide meaningful career opportunities for Indigenous Peoples. This partnership highlights PLATO’s positioning for growth and the scalability of their model, and signals to the Indigenous business community their readiness to secure other Indigenous investors in order to become a majority-owned Indigenous company.
“Despite the challenges of COVID-19, it has been a good year for our PLATO team and today’s news has us looking positively toward the future,” said PLATO Testing CEO and founder Keith McIntosh. “While PLATO was developed in response to the 92nd Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action on jobs and training, it’s always been about more than that. Representation matters, and we have seen time and time again that when you provide the next generation with leaders in their own communities who have gone into a new industry and excelled, they are inspired to go even further.”
In 2020, PLATO Testing founder Keith McIntosh was awarded the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business Award for Excellence in Aboriginal Relations, joining the likes of former
Prime Minister Paul Martin and Senator Murray Sinclair as champions for Indigenous economic participation.
“Keith’s commitment to growing Indigenous participation in tech continues to have a profound impact on not only the people he employs and their families and communities, but on long-held mainstream beliefs about who Indigenous people are and where we belong,” said Tabatha Bull, President and CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. He is dismantling some of the harmful narratives that have kept Indigenous people from taking their rightful place in the Canadian economy.”
Candice Tangie, PLATO Sault Ste. Marie
Before landing a job with PLATO Testing, Candice Tangie would often find herself working 13-hour days, balancing two or three part-time retail jobs at a time, just to make ends meet. Having a stable, Monday to Friday job with a steady paycheque has allowed her to plan for the future and consider new opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible
in the past. “Before this, I wasn’t even able to consider buying things like a house or
a car, and now I’m able to do so,” she said.
For more information about PLATO Testing, visit www.platotesting.com.