(This story is sponsored by Palette Skills.)
Despite having one of the most educated and diverse workforces in the world, an overwhelming number of Canadian companies struggle to find highly skilled talent.
In order for our country to succeed in building an innovation economy, this employment gap must be closed by connecting trailblazing companies with suitable talent. Even though Canada’s unemployment rate remains high, companies are having a difficult time recruiting the team members required for growth.
Longtime social entrepreneur and computer scientist Arvind Gupta recognized the need to address this gap, sparking the idea for Palette Skills, a nonprofit that provides rapid training and upskilling programs to Canadians. Each program is designed to help participants gain employment in the fastest growing industries like tech and cybersecurity.
“We just aren’t getting the right people into these innovative companies—and the right talent is crucial if companies want to succeed,” says Gupta, CEO and cofounder of Palette Skills.
When establishing the nonprofit, funded in part by the Government of Canada, he started with the question: why are we relying on new postsecondary programs and skilled foreign workers to meet talent demands when we live in a country with such a highly educated population?
In response to this question, Gupta reflected upon the measures it would take to move Canadians into these innovative industries and the minimum intervention required.
“We found a way to customize training for several groups of people, providing them with the knowledge and experience that hiring companies are looking for. In one week, someone who wasn’t considered ‘hireable’ can become the hottest talent these companies have seen. We show companies that these people can do the job, they just require a little extra training,” says Gupta.
Palette Skills can create new pathways for mid-career workers, university graduates with some work experience, newcomers, women re-entering the workforce, and people experiencing major barriers to finding work. It also seeks to help workers move from disrupted industries into faster growing and more stable sectors.
An impressive 96 percent of participants who complete the SalesCamp or Cybersecurity Training program through Palette Skills receive a job offer.
Over the past decade, Canada has become one of the largest tech hubs in the world, which is why the nonprofit created the SalesCamp training program. Through public-private partnerships, Palette Skills designs industry-driven training and upskilling programs that expand the talent pool for companies competing in today’s digital economy.
Palette Skills has been running the B2B tech sales course in Ontario for the past two years but has recently expanded to B.C.
The second cohort of the live virtual, bootcamp-style program will begin in January 2022, with two more programs happening in February and March.
A significant part of the program involves direct engagement with hiring managers and tech companies. “These experts provide hands-on exercises that cover the sales cycle, lead generation, and closing a deal,” says Gupta. “They get to see how well the participants can perform and fast-track them through the hiring process. It’s a real win-win, participants get to learn from the best and hiring partners get to access outstanding talent.”
Palette’s hiring partners represent a diverse variety of industries, including financial services, software as a service, education, and more. They include companies that range in size from small startups with fewer than 10 staff, to large corporations with more than 5,000 employees.
The first iteration of the B.C. program included participation from companies like Klue, Traction on Demand, Trulioo, and Visier.
In the program itself, participants receive four weeks of sales training. The first six days offer full-time live and online instruction, followed by three weeks of part-time workshops. Topics covered include sales foundations, confidence building, career development planning, and more. Participants also get access to ongoing networking events and job search support to help them succeed after graduating the program.
This fast-paced, intensive program is funded by Innovate B.C.
Palette Skills is motivated by the strong belief that when equipped with the right tools, workers of all genders, ages, and backgrounds can develop the skills necessary to succeed in the future of work.
“We have to believe that Canadians can do these jobs,” says Gupta. “I know we always say that people are the best resource but I’m not sure we always believe it. Canadians can be part of this knowledge economy that we’re building if we create opportunities for them to enter. Otherwise, we are sending the message that these new types of well-paying jobs aren’t for them, they are for somebody else. If you believe people can do great things when they put their mind to it, then we have to build a bridge.”
To apply to the Palette Skills SalesCamp BC program, visit www.paletteskills.org/bcsalescamp/.
If you’d like to become a hiring partner and access a growing talent pool of skilled, qualified, and diverse candidates to help your company grow, go to www.paletteskills.org/partners/.