Innovatia hires almost entire college IT class

A Saint John-based technology firm, hungry for new employees, snapped up seven of nine students in a technology class at the New Brunswick Community College in St. Andrews.

Innovatia is one of the fastest growing companies in Atlantic Canada and offers technology support and training modules to clients around the globe.

When Dave Grebenc and Roxanne Fairweather, the company’s chief executive officers, started the company about three years ago, Innovatia had more than 200 employees and it has been adding more staff.

"We just finished bringing on our 500th person and were in the process of bringing on 30 more,” Grebenc said.

That push for new staff and the desire to hire local employees brought Innovatia’s recruiters to the IT network support program at the community college in St. Andrews.

The company left the college with job offers in the hands of seven of nine students in the IT network support program. Each of the jobs will start at more than $30,000.

Blair Price, an instructor with the college’s IT network support program, said he’s never seen a company walk in and essentially hire his entire class.

"We've had companies come in before and hire some students, but never the whole class,” he said.

Matthew Anderson, a St. George resident, said having a job before graduation is a great feeling. He said it beats handing out resumes and then waiting by the phone for an interview.

"We were just surprised that they would come see us,” he said.

There could be more jobs in the future for the college’s graduates. Innovatia's Grebenc said New Brunswick’s technology industry is one of the province’s fastest growing sectors.

But getting students enrolled in the program to fill those jobs has not been easy, according to Price.

He said his class was only half full to start the year even though the prospects for getting jobs is bright.

"It's unfortunate that more New Brunswickers aren't picking up on IT as a career track,” he said.

"There seems to be a growing demand for IT workers in New Brunswick. However, the enrollments in colleges and universities probably isn't what it should be.”

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