On Saturday February 1st, Vancouver-based developer boot camp Lighthouse Labs hosted Canada's largest open access education event teaching 500 people to learn to code for free. With a classroom composed of students and professionals from diverse fields, the teachers at Lighthouse Labs instructed the room on basic HTML and CSS. Participants created their own landing pages with the help of professional developers as Teaching Assistants from sponsoring companies.
The HTML500 was about more than learning to code. The event had the additional motive of raising awareness about the multitude of jobs available in the BC technology industry. Guest speaker the honourable Andrew Wilkinson, Minister of Technology, Innovation, and Citizen's Services, spoke to the many opportunities available not only for employment, but also for entrepreneurship and innovation.
The high demand for developers was exemplified by comments from Hootsuite's Senior Director of Software Engineering, Noel Pullen, who elaborated on tech's extreme talent shortage and noted that "learning to code is often the easiest way to get a work permit."
Indeed, BC tech is growing faster than the region's traditional forestry, mining, and energy industries, and now employs more than 80,000 at 8,900 companies, including at least 350 active start-ups. It is understandable then, that the biggest hurdle faced by BC's tech industry is a small talent pool of developers to draw from.