FREDERICTON – A new software testing company in New Brunswick is expected to create 145 information technology jobs, all of which will be filled by aboriginal people.
Professional Aboriginal Testing Organization — or PLATO — is the creation of Fredericton businessman Keith McIntosh.
“We have a need for people. We have people who want to be here and have a need for work,” McIntosh said Thursday.
The new employees will come from a six-month software testing course created by McIntosh.
“We want to make sure that First Nations have all the opportunities that they need to be able to gain the skills, education and training that they need for the workforce here in the province,” said Premier Brian Gallant as he announced the jobs at one of the classrooms for the course.
McIntosh said they expect to have at least 150 aboriginal people doing software testing on reserves and in other areas of the province by the end of 2018.
PLATO now has 10 employees delivering outsourced testing services, and up to 87 more jobs will be created as students complete the training program.
Another 58 jobs will be created at Professional Quality Assurance, where McIntosh is the co-chief executive officer.
Melanie Griffith, from the St. Mary’s First Nation, is a student in the current class. She said she saw the program as an interesting opportunity.
“I hadn’t considered the technology field being a job opportunity before, but when I saw that people were getting hired on and how quick the training was, I was interested,” she said.
McIntosh said he’s impressed with the calibre of the students and their desire to work.
“For the people that are taking the course it’s work. It’s not free money, it’s work money. Work for fair pay to do a valued job is dignity, and that’s the best thing you can have,” he said.
The provincial government will provide up to $982,000 in payroll rebates for the creation of the new jobs.
Gallant was quick to defend the financial assistance, saying the work to be done by the graduates will add $11 million to the provincial economy.
McIntosh said the work they are chasing now goes offshore. He said it’s an opportunity to create jobs in the province and bring in money from elsewhere.
McIntosh said while the new company is based in Fredericton, he is looking to expand to other provinces across the country.