National charity, ComIT recently announced the launch of Recoding Futures, a program to provide IT training to 450 Indigenous learners across Canada. This week we spoke to Pablo Listingart, Executive Director of ComIT to learn more!
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
ComIT is a charity which aims to develop a community that links people struggling to overcome employment barriers with companies looking for talented IT professionals.
Our work targets the skills gap in the labour market by focusing on the tools and languages required by local companies, as well as on much needed soft skills and professional development capabilities.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Our work is based on training unemployed and underemployed people, who can’t afford other types of training, on much needed technical and soft skills required to overcome employment barriers, while contributing to the development of the IT talent pool in Canada.
When did you start it?
ComIT was created in 2016, with the first pilot being run in 2017 in Kitchener, along with Communitech and Google. Since then, ComIT has run programs in 9 cities across 5 Canadian provinces.
What made you want to get involved/start it?
Back in 2011, while I was still living in Argentina, after 10 years working in the IT industry, I decided that I wanted to give back to my community, in the same way that many volunteer teachers helped me during my time at the public university. So I decided to start teaching my profession to people who couldn’t afford it in other institutions. So I created my first charity there and helped hundreds of people to get jobs in IT (today that charity is still running, and we helped so far over 2000 people get into the labor market).
I arrived to Canada in early 2015, and after a year and a half of getting to know my new country, and accommodating with my wife and kid, I decided to create a charity here to help those who are underrepresented, and are being left behind because they are either unemployed or doing survival jobs to provide for their families. They can’t even think about achieving the Canadian Dream because they move from paycheck to paycheck, but they have an amazing talent and just need a chance to shine.
What was the situation like when you started?
At the beginning of ComIT the situation was not easy. I was new in this country, with no professional or personal networks. I tried to get the project started in the Prairies but it was too difficult to get that first opportunity to run a pilot. But at that moment Google.org was already supporting my charity in South America, so I used my connections at Google Argentina to be connected with Google Canada. And through the magic of networking (and some longer stories), I ended up starting the first pilot in Kitchener where the project was really well received by Google and Communitech.
How has it changed since?
After proving that I was serious in my intentions, and doing myself all the paperwork to create the non-profit and obtain charitable status, things began to happen, with several hundred people being hired across the country but most of all, with the hope to be helping more people in need across the country.
From that first pilot in Kitchener, and a second one in Winnipeg in 2017, we’ve run 19 programs in 2020, covering 9 major cities across 5 provinces in Canada (Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia).
And now, we have the opportunity to work together with Google and Indspire and many other Indigenous organizations to contribute to change the life of hundreds of talented people.
What more needs to be done?
Our work is just beginning. We are currently helping 200 to 300 people to get jobs across Canada, per year. And more can be done in a labor market that keeps growing year over year.
However, our biggest challenge is to work on diversity and inclusion. The biggest effort ComIT is trying to do is communicate the benefits of a diverse workforce. To make companies understand that they should be hiring for potential and knowledge, and not just for seniority. That provide opportunities to new people in the talent pool can bring also great benefits. And we still have a long road ahead of us in that area.
How can our readers help?
ComIT is always open to hear about different ways we can work together with companies, organizations and volunteers.
The more straightforward way might be through donations (either contacting us or through our website www.comit.org/donate), but there are also people helping in other ways.
- HR volunteers teaching seminars on resume building and interview skills
- Professionals sharing their stories on the labor market
- IT professionals helping on content development, content translation (to French) and instructing courses
- Organizations promoting the courses so their members/clients can learn more about this opportunity
- Companies organizing mock interviews, or being open to receiving resumes (it’s a completely free service that ComIT provides)
- Companies hiring interns
- And any other idea is welcomed
Do you have any events or programs coming up?
We have 3-month programs running all year round, and in January 2021 we’ll start a new online program for Indigenous learners across Canada in partnership with Google Canada
Where can we follow you?
You can follow us on:
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome Toronto charity that you love?
Because it is a topic close to my heart, my favourite charity is Canadian Cancer Society.