Siksika offers IT training | The Star

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Siksika Nation is working to start the year off on a productive note following a training course with CompTIA to introduce some of the community to the information technology industry. A total of 25 Siksika community members participated in the training course, delivered by CompTIA – a non-profit association for […]

Siksika Nation is working to start the year off on a productive note following a training course with CompTIA to introduce some of the community to the information technology industry.

A total of 25 Siksika community members participated in the training course, delivered by CompTIA – a non-profit association for the IT industry along with the Blackfoot Tech Council.

CompTIA Senior Director of Corporate Communications, Steven Ostrowski, said part of the motivation for hosting the course was to get more people trained in the industry and begin to diversify the workforce.

“There is a big gap in terms of jobs that are out there versus the people who are available to fill them, so we’ve had a very strong commitment for a number of years to get people educated, trained and certified in technology skills so they can fill that gap,” said Ostrowski who added that there are very few indigenous individuals who work in the information technology industry.

“We made a concerted effort to work with our members, with the industry, with employers, with individuals to try and change that dynamic and that’s what brought us to working with the Siksika Nation,” he said.

The training course was operated between October and December 2021. Fifteen individuals completed a virtual course that was centered around fundamentals and pre-career certification that would help to get their feet in the door.

The second course was completed by 10 local IT and communications specialists and was geared towards building on more advanced skills and bringing people up to the current industry standard.

“Now, many of those folks are in paid apprenticeships to get their feet on the ground and start doing the real work of an IT support person, a help desk support person, or technical support person for different organizations,” explained Ostrowski.

The program marks the first time CompTIA has worked with an Indigenous group and Ostrowski added that the team is optimistic about creating more opportunities for Indigenous communities to get involved.

Siksika Nation Chief Ouray Crowfoot said he was optimistic about the impact the program will have for the local community.

“This training program, developed and implemented in collaboration with CompTIA, will build the capacity of our nation to be leaders in present-day information technology and communication, with the aim of creating of a healthy digital ecosystem for Siksika Nation and beyond,” said Crowfoot.

David Panther Bone, who participated in the program and is one of the founding members of the Blackfoot Tech Council, said the nation has had connectivity problems since the start of the pandemic.

The program, he explained, has helped the team begin to address those problems, as well as other IT related grievances.

“One of our first projects was working on an internet connectivity project to meet a lot of the connectivity issues from moving online with our local schools as well as helping support businesses,” said Panther Bone. “The second order of business with our project was to try and build capacity in our IT and communications fields here.”

Those who participated in the program were able to partner with IT and communication specialists shortly after the program concluded to put their new skills into practice.

Discussions are currently on the go to potentially see another training program launch in the spring.

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