- »PLATO to Establish Sault Ste. Marie Center
PLATO to Establish Sault Ste. Marie Center
It was a big day for the Professional Aboriginal Testing Organization (PLATO) on July 30. Not only did the facility mark its official opening of the new center at Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario, its first 11 students completed their training and graduated into full-time employment with the company. Much of the software training facility’s focus will be on the lottery and gaming industries.
PLATO’s establishment in the downtown area of Sault Ste. Marie marks a milestone for the company and its staff. The news is also positive for the indigenous people of Canada.
In September 2018, it was first announced that PLATO was expanding out of New Brunswick into Sault Ste. Marie. The company’s plan was to establish a new workspace and create as many as 60 jobs.
This particular PLATO location would subsequently train approximately one dozen indigenous Canadians in software testing, much of it aimed at the lottery and gaming sectors. The training began before the end of 2018 to expand the workforce into Sault Ste. Marie, as PLATO already had offices in Alberta and British Columbia.
PLATO founder Keith McIntosh, who also founded its Professional Quality Assurance (PQA) parent company, noted, “The thriving lottery and gaming industry is one of the reasons we expanded to Sault Ste. Marie.”
The desire is to keep the jobs in Canada and uplift indigenous communities. Especially with the United States, China, or India currently being the recipient of much software testing outsourcing.
At that time, PLATO President of Testing Denis Carignan said, “Our goal was really to develop an indigenous testing team across Canada. For whatever reason, when we looked at what the talent pool is among First Nation, Metis, and Inuit people across Canada, in terms of training, the numbers weren’t as high as we wanted.”
That led to the graduation of 11 students and the corresponding grand opening of the lottery and gaming software testing lab on July 30.
The establishment is called the Centre of Excellence in Lottery and Gaming Software Testing. Workers will be testing websites, enterprise software, and mobile apps in order to assess its safety for the open market. The detection and fixing of any bugs or glitches will take place before final approval.
New Workers with New Skills
There were 11 indigenous students who endured the entire six-month program in the PLATO Software Tester Training program at Sault College. The information technology program focused heavily on the gaming and lottery sector. They also completed internships with PLATO.
Not only did they earn their certificates, they also received offers of full-time employment. That brings the number of indigenous software testers at PLATO to more than 50 across Canada.
The students received the training at no cost, which is a part of the PLATO plan that works toward economic reconciliation.
The long-term goal of PLATO is to employ at least 1,000 software testers in 20 communities. Each one will focus on a different part of the industry.
Bigger PLATO Goals
PLATO is growing its company and staff with the support of the Ontario government. It received $1.2 million in provincial funding in February of 2019 and another $2.6 million in June.
McIntosh was optimistic about the future of its new location and its goals to create jobs and support indigenous communities. “The Ontario government is more than just a funder,” he said. “They support initiatives in Sault Ste. Marie that promote economic growth and success, attracting businesses like ours to the region.”
Since Sault Ste. Marie is located on traditional Anishnaabeg land, the location was ideal for the training center. The Garden River First Nation and Batchewana First Nation communities are likely to benefit from the job creation and overall economic boost to the region.
On a larger level, PLATO wants to make Canada more of a center for software testing solutions rather than a country that focuses heavily on outsourcing to other countries. As stated on its website:
“PLATO Testing addresses the technology talent shortage in Canada and brings meaningful training and employment to indigenous people and communities. As a member of the PLATO Testing team, you are a part of a Canada-wide effort to make a positive impact and provide quality software testing solutions.”
Calgary is Next for PLATO
PLATO is now accepting applications for people in Calgary to do the same as in Sault Ste. Marie.
The next course is set to begin in September of this year, and tuition fees are subject to a person’s eligibility requirements. Anyone is welcome to apply for a spot in the Calgary testing course. They are simply required to be of First Nations, Inuit, or Metis heritage or descent, and have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Of course, they must also be interested in information technology and possess the desire to learn.