For many newcomers to Canada, finding a job can be a real struggle. Unemployment and underemployment can be the unfortunate reality for many recent immigrants, no matter what their qualifications or experience from their country of origin may be.
*photos from ComIT Facebook
Many smart and hardworking people are unable to secure jobs that provide a living wage or upward mobility, often because they may not have the resources to seek the support and skills training they may need compete in Canada’s employment landscape. Many end up cobbling together multiple paycheques from different jobs in order to survive. When someone’s intention in coming to a new country is to thrive, not just survive, the situation can seem hopeless. As well, the Canadian economy misses out on viable, strong contributors to its health and strength, and new Canadians are unable to reach their full potential, nor live a healthy and fulfilled life in their new home. Being all too familiar with this struggle, one Canadian newcomer decided to single-handedly do something about it. Meet Pablo Listingart, founder ComIT.
In 2015, in search of a brighter future for his family, Pablo and his wife moved to Winnipeg, Canada with their 2 children. As an IT professional, Pablo had worked for tech giants like Microsoft and IBM in Buenos Aires. As a result he had an intimate knowledge of what it took to succeed in that industry, and he wanted to share that knowledge with those who needed it. With the financial support from local companies he launched free, three-month intensive IT courses to do just that. Comunidad IT, as it became known in South America, became so successful that they had to expand operations and hire instructors to keep up with the demand. And now Pablo has brought that same model along with him to Canada under the moniker ComIT.
ComIT is a non-profit organization that provides hands-on IT courses in subjects like programming, soft skills and professional development to new Canadians looking to enter the tech industry. These courses – currently offered in Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Regina, Kitchener, Toronto, Edmonton and soon Vancouver – allow students to really dive in, learn new technical and soft skills that set them up for success. Behind these courses are the incredible ComIT staff, who all work within the industry and work closely with their students to help them develop thriving, successful careers. Many Commit graduates go on to find great jobs with companies like Google, SkipTheDishes, Communitech, TD Canada Trust and more. These companies also help fund ComIT’s work, showing just how valuable it is not only to users, but potential employers too.
Check out this testimonial from a happy and now thriving former student:
“After coming to Canada from Vietnam with my family three years ago, even though I had an IT background, I had to work a number of part-time labour jobs to make ends meet, because I found it really difficult to find a good full-time job,” said ComIT graduate, Duong Doan. “Meeting Pablo and taking his course was life-changing for me. I upgraded my skills, learned a lot about the Canadian marketplace and secured a great full-time job with SkipTheDishes in Winnipeg.”
We got the chance to chat with Pablo about the inspiring and necessary work he does with ComIT. Take a read below, and head to their website to learn more when you’re done.
How did you get involved with the work you currently do?
I used to work for a big IT corporation and had the job of creating community around their technologies. I loved that job. It was about giving people tools to go for more in life, and I think I was pretty good at it. In two years I brought over 10,000 people to events and created study groups in many cities in Argentina.
But I was laid off from that job as the company let go of a large percentage of employees worldwide. So, I wanted to continue helping people, but I had no “brand” to support me. So, at one point, I decided to do as much as I could, by teaching people myself. I thought, even if two people land jobs, I’m happy, I’m done. Eight years later, the number is over 1100 and counting…
What is your WHY?
The reason is simple: I believe that it is a gift for us to be on this planet. And I want my time on this earth to have an impact. I really want to leave a mark by helping as many people as I can. And I want my kids to be proud of their dad, and to learn that we are not alone in this world, that we belong to something greater, a society. We owe it to ourselves and each other to offer a helping hand, and elevate us all, collectively.
What’s a piece of advice would you give to someone trying to do what you do, or trying to follow their own dreams?
I always say that I don’t negotiate two things: effort and respect. If you dream about something, don’t waste your life planning or fantasizing about it, do it. Try, make the effort, fail. Try again. Try as much as you can. The worst thing in life is to grow old with regrets about all the things you haven’t done.
Who inspires you?
There are 5 people who inspired me the most throughout my life. My parents, who are self-made professionals, and with all their flaws, they went above and beyond to help me be what I am. My wife, who helps me to always remain down to earth, to think out of the box, and who raises with me the other two people who inspire me, my kids. My son and my daughter teach me so many things, including:
- unconditional love
- how to be youthful
- to remember that we don’t know everything
- how to have energy even when you don’t think you have any left
- how to question everything in your life
- and so much more!
If you could pick one charitable organization to ask our readers to donate to or volunteer with, which would it be?
ComIT would be my first pick, given that I truly believe with all my heart in what we do. If it has to be another one, I would recommend you do your own research, and donate or volunteer to charitable organizations that have a real impact aligned with your core values. If you believe in teaching, find out who actually has an impact in the area of education. If you want to help kids, find those who does great work with them. Don’t just donate because of a nice ad or a good brand. Always think about making an impact by donating your money or your time.