Google Canada invests millions in upskilling Indigenous jobseekers

Amid the Canadian skills shortage, employers are looking at new ways to plug the talent gap

Google Canada invests millions in upskilling Indigenous jobseekers

Google Canada has announced its plans to invest up to $2.7 million in grants aimed at upskilling Indigenous communities across the country. The move is expected to not only help address the ongoing skills shortage in the technology sector, but also boost diversity and inclusion efforts for underrepresented groups.

In its latest investment, Google.org, the charitable arm of the tech giant, granted not-for-profit organization ComIT $1.3 million in funding to help train and develop Indigenous jobseekers for new careers in technology.

"ComIT is thrilled to receive continued support from Google to bring free technology training to Indigenous students across Canada, and increase Indigenous representation in the Canadian tech sector," said Pablo Listingart, executive director at ComIT. "Since announcing the Recoding Futures program in 2020, over 1,600 Indigenous students have registered for the program, with over 800 students having completed or currently enrolled."

Other grants include $670K for STEM career development group Actua, and $670K for MediaSmarts to help develop and implement a National Digital Media Literacy Education Training Program.

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Earlier this month, Amazon also announced a $2.25 million investment to help Indigenous youths train in the computer science field. As part of Indigitize Computer Science (or Indigitize), Amazon hopes the investment will remove barriers faced by Indigenous communities wanting to forge a career in the fast-growing tech sector.

Upskilling in a tight labour market

Investments into underrepresented groups are growing in momentum in North America. The ongoing Great Resignation coupled with a candidate-led market means Canadian companies are struggling to plug the talent gaps. One way organizations are battling the drought is through early stage L&D, investing in education in order to create the candidates they need.

The latest data from Statistics Canada found the unemployment-to job ratio in Canada is at an historical low – facilitating the tight labour market. Over one third of businesses cite retaining skilled employees as their number one concern going into 2023, with recruiting highly trained candidates is HR leaders’ main priority for the next three months. However, a recent report from Indeed found that 79% of businesses said it’s been difficult to find workers in the last one to two months. Eighty percent of employers therefore made changes to their hiring practices in order to attract talent in the current market.

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“Mismatches between the offered wage associated with vacancies and the reservation wage—the minimum hourly wage at which jobseekers are willing to accept a position—may be contributing to the elevated level of job vacancies in certain sectors, particularly in retail trade and accommodation and food services,” detailed Statistics Canada. “In sectors where the offered wage is above the reservation wage, such as in health care and social assistance, other factors may be at play to explain the labour shortage.”

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