Mentors offer advice to aspiring coders at HTML150 at Mount Royal University
If you teach them to build it, they will come. And they’ll show up in droves.
One recent Saturday, Calgary Economic Development teamed with the governments of Alberta and Canada to bring Calgarians HTML150, a one-day, crash course in learning to code by Lighthouse Labs.
The free event “sold out" in no time, allowing 150 budding software developers to pack into a lecture hall at Mount Royal University to get an introduction to coding from industry experts and local mentors.By the end of the day, they all had the support to build their own website.
The event is an example of an innovation ecosystem that’s emerging in Calgary.
As the city strives to develop a world-leading innovation economy with a young and highly educated workforce, it’s the ability to create technology to drive new ideas that will change the world.
“In the world now, people need to be focused on what they are good at and then double down on it,” said Ralph Gonzales, 24, who has a communications degree and is adding to his skill set by combining his creativity with new technological capabilities. “You have to discover what you’re truly passionate about and then go into that. Don’t find a stable job, find a stable skill set … and build on that.”
Holding down four jobs – two to pay the bills and two of his own start-ups in the concept stage – Gonzales embodies Calgary’s legendary entrepreneurial spirit.
HTML150 attracted Calgarians of all ages and from all walks of life. The session is part of the Re-engage series that Calgary Economic Development conducts to help support laid off professionals and skilled trades workers as they try to re-engage for future work opportunities.
With the second highest level of educational attainment of any city in Canada and more than 20 per cent of graduates from local post-secondary institutions in STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Calgary is well-positioned to be a talent hub in the new innovation economy.
Don Burks, a Vancouver-based head instructor at Lighthouse Labs, said there’s a definite hunger to innovate and take on something new in Calgary and the collaboration among the key stakeholders in business and education is evident in embracing technology.
Technology isn’t seen as a stand-alone sector in the Calgary economy but a key component in all areas of growth including; all forms of energy, finance, agribusiness, transportation and logistics, and creative industries.
“A lot of companies are turning into tech companies these days,” Burks said. “They all have multiple software systems that they have to use and somebody has to build those systems.”
In Calgary alone, there’s a need to fill more than 10,000 jobs in information and communication (ICT) by 2019 with positions that include systems analysts, network operators and web technicians, electrical and electronics technicians and engineers.