Fourteen Indigenous students are spending their summer in the classroom learning all about software testing as part of a first-time course in Regina.

The training is happening over the next few months at the University of Regina’s College Avenue Campus.

One of those students is Lee Prosper, who lives in Regina but is originally from One Arrow First Nation.

“So far I’m actually pretty excited about what we’re going to be learning here, I have experience in IT software,” Prosper said. “I’m really looking forward to graduating from this class, IT software is actually what I’ve been really, really interested in.”

“I was looking for a job, and I went to the First Nations Employment Centre, and I was referred and they told me about the program,” said Melissa Friday, another student. “I was actually excited that I got in, because I haven’t done anything for a while. So it’s like getting back into the swing of things.”

The program, run by the Regina-based Professional Aboriginal Testing Organization (PLATO), has been happening across the country since 2015, but now is the first time it’s up and running in Regina.

The president of PLATO and the general manager of its Saskatchewan branch Denis Carignan is a member of the Pasqua First Nation.

“What it does is it takes folks that have little to no training technically and after a period of 15 weeks in-class training and eight weeks of internship it gives them basically all the skills and knowledge they need to be successful as a junior software tester in Canada, so an entry level software tester,” Carignan told CTV News.

Software testing surrounds checking for problems in systems and software used by a wide range of industries that can include everything from airline ticket sale systems to golf course tee-time booking apps.

The company is majority-owned by FHQ Developments and is growing with every training program it holds by hiring the majority of the students at the end of the course.

“All told, we’ve got just under 60 full time permanent employees that work for our company,” Carignan said. “We’ll have another 12 joining the company very shortly in Sault St. Marie and then with this class of 14, we’ll have hopefully 14 will join our network of testers across Canada.”

The company’s long-term goal is to have 1,000 indigenous software testers working across the country and hopes to work with other companies to help test in Canada with a Canadian-indigenous company instead of outsourcing that work to other countries.