Indigenous Tech Mentoring & Employment

two long wood tables in the great room of the Kitchener location

About The Program

The objectives of this program are quite extensive and game-changing. We will take participants who have no or little computer programming skills and over the course of a few months of just-in-time and cloud-based education, provide them with a very marketable skill for the Tech Sector. Once trained, participants will create a huge talent pool for the tech industry. We will also work with the Tech Sector to create talent management programs to help tech companies to attract, retain and develop our Indigenous participants (another first for Corporate Canada). In essence, we will work with the tech sector to ensure their processes and systems won’t create barriers for employment and promotion of women and Indigenous people. This program will also ensure that participants with little or no computer knowledge, have the pre-skills needed to succeed in the training. Similarly, our program will also ensure that participants have the skills needed to obtain and retain positions in the tech sector. Since many of our participants have been under or unemployed, we will also provide participants with life and financial management skills. Another key objective of this project will be to develop a roster of volunteer Tutors from universities and Mentors from tech companies. To date, we have commitment from Tech Companies for mentors and dozens of tutors (profs and PhD students).  We will also begin to create an advisory team from the tech industry to help us develop and create the technical courses. An objective we have already met is partnership with world-class math and computer science program to help create the university course content for participants based on tech sector specifications. The University of Waterloo Math Education Department is creating all of our technical courses (this is another innovative and world-leading first: we have created a free alternative to University education that provides the same skills as a university education). Part of this project will be to partner with companies to obtain donated laptops and computers for participants in order to offset costs. We have already received some donations and have the commitment of more. While we are requesting funding for this program to help us manage the education, program administration and partnerships, the vast majority of this program is donation or volunteer-based (this is an innovative partnership between education and industry to help a specific underrepresented population).

The most important object of this program will be the employment of Indigenous women and men. Since this program will be remote learning and remote work, it will mean people on reserves will be able to participate. Think about the impact of 10,000 new people on reserves being employed each and every year. This will have a profound effect on GDP and the Canadian economy. 

We are fortunate to have AO’s head office in the tech centre of Canada, the Waterloo region. Home to some of the world’s most intelligent Computer Science graduates. However, we hear time and time again from our partners in the tech industry that they are experiencing what they have coined as ‘brain drain’. As a result of tech sector work going remote, companies are losing talent to much higher-paying positions in Silicon Valley and other tech hotbeds in America. Employees are able to work from anywhere and make much higher salaries than here in Canada. While this is an unfortunate reality for local companies that cannot compete with Silicon Valley salaries, it has created the perfect storm of success for our program. Simply put, the Tech Sector needs this solution: a way to rapidly create a limitless talent pool. 

Initially, our pilot will scale up to 1000 participants in year one. By year three, that number will balloon to 10,000 participants per year. We will be working with both urban and remote Indigenous peoples and modifying the program to fill gaps as needed. For remote communities, this will eventually result in full reserve employment in 15-20 years. And if we can continue this program for 20 years, we will be able to have two generations of participants through the program. As participants earn income on reserves, the money will be able to flow around the reserve and secondary businesses will be able to open and thrive. Ultimately, this program will be able to create economic stability on reserves by providing remote computer work and provide Indigenous people living on reserves with a much different future.