Tessa Bousfield posted an articleLLC took off with coding workshops and networking events and is now in 22 cities with more than... see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Sarah Petrescu
Photographer: Trevor Ball
Co-ordinating a meeting with three women in different places — a downtown Victoria office, Seattle hotel room and Fairfield living room — is easy when at least two of them are technology buffs. “Let’s meet on Zoom. It’s kind of like Google hangouts, but better,” Erin Athene said of the web-based video conferencing service.
Athene and Christina Seargeant are co-leads of the Victoria chapter of Ladies Learning Code, a national non-profit launched in 2011 by a group of women in Toronto who felt isolated trying to learn computer programming, or coding.
The organization took off with coding workshops and networking events and is now in 22 cities with more than 25,000 participants and a branch for girls.
“I found out about Ladies Learning Code and asked if I could launch it in Victoria. I definitely saw a need,” said Athene, who moved from Seattle in 2013.
She had co-founded the software company Topaz Bridge Corp. and “did everything but the technical stuff,” she said.
“I realized there was a lack of power there and how much more affective I could’ve been with more knowledge on the technical side.”
Athene said being the only woman on an executive team also led her to launch Ladies Learning Code. The chapter got its start at the 2013 VIATEC Discover Tectoria showcase, where Athene set up a booth. More than 50 women signed up.
“It definitely piqued my interest,” said Seargeant from her office in Bastion Square at Workday, a finance and human resources software company.
She said many companies want to support women in feeling comfortable to enter the technology world. “And there’s a war for talent with not a huge pool of people to hire from. So they support building this up on a grassroots level,” Seargeant said.
The two teamed up to plan the group’s first HTML/CSS coding workshop and spread the word about the need for mentorship and skills for local women in the tech world. They needed $1,000 to hold the event and turned to the crowd-sourcing tool Tilt to fundraise.
“We started sharing the link on Facebook and within an hour Dan Gunn [the head of VIATEC] offered to match up to $5,000,” Seargeant said. They raised $11,000 and sold-out the event with more than 100 people attending and 50 more on a wait-list.
The turnout was diverse and included tech newbies, those already working in the tech field wanting to expand their skills, and senior developers wanting to mentor others.
In the three years since, the Victoria chapter of Ladies Learning Code has held more than 20 workshops on everything from building a website to WordPress and gaming. It has 600 members and holds events every month or so. This summer, Girls Learning Code was launched with a camp at St. Margaret’s School, and Athene said the next project will target kids and teachers who want to learn.
“Our goal is not that everyone codes for a living. Our No. 1 priority is to be that first stepping stone. We believe in digital literacy,” said Athene, a managing partner of PurposeSocial, a web development company that commits to having a technical team made up of at least half women and minorities. “I’m a lot more comfortable now in my work, understanding the landscape and what back-end and front-end development do,” she said.
Ryan Stratton has volunteered as a mentor for Ladies Learning Code since the first Victoria event.
“There certainly is a gender gap. When you look at the traditional tech office, it’s about 80 per cent [men] — including ours,” said Stratton, founder of Craftt, a software management company for craft brewers.
“When you build products for men and women you want your team to reflect that,” he said, also noting there are more jobs than technical talent in Victoria.
“For me, [mentoring] is the satisfaction of increasing digital literacy, but also investing in future employees and the community,” Stratton said.
Janni Aragon, a University of Victoria political science professor and the interim technology and society director, said the diversity problem in the tech world is well-recognized and needs to change.
“It’s not just about gender, but racial and ethnic diversity as well,” she said. Aragon has attended most of the Ladies Learning Code events in Victoria.
“At every one, a woman mentor gets up and says, ‘I’m the only woman on my team,’ and that’s why they are there,” she said.
While many computer science programs are still dominated by men, Aragon said she’s seeing an increase in women from other faculties such as fine arts and social sciences pursue technology skills.
“They are good sectors with good pay,” she said, adding students, usually women, in technology and society course say they want to be the change. “They want to be trailblazers and get out into these fields,” she said.
Tessa Bousfield posted an articleB.C. government announced today nearly $600,000 towards a partnership with key technology industry.. see more
Source: Province of BC
The B.C. government announced today nearly $600,000 towards a partnership with key technology industry partners to study the labour market needs in the tech sector.
Led by the BC Technology Association (BCTA) and the Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC), this technology Sector Labour Market Partnership project, worth nearly $600,000 to date, will help the government and project partners gain a better understanding of the current and future labour needs in this diverse and fast growing sector. As part of this project, the partners are also developing a comprehensive labour market strategy which will result in recommendations on deepening the talent pool for in-demand jobs in B.C.
Since last October, BCTA and VEC, with support from the government through the Sector Labour Market Partnership Program, have been engaging with technology employers, educational stakeholders and the broader technology community to gain a better understanding of the labour needs in this sector. To help the industry take this important project further, the Province has recently committed additional support so they can complete a detailed labour market analysis and develop a strategy with key actions to address the sector’s labour market priorities.
After the announcement, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour Shirley Bond, and Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services Amrik Virk, as well as project partners, met with programming students at the Lighthouse Labs Victoria campus, located in the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council (VIATEC) offices within the Fort Tectoria building in Victoria.
The project announced today is part of the government’s commitment to deepen B.C.’s technology talent pool through a variety of actions, including improving access to timely and relevant labour market information, as outlined in the #BCTECH Strategy. The 10-year strategy includes a $100-million BC Tech Fund to improve access to capital, as well as initiatives to increase talent development and market growth for tech companies to drive innovation and productivity throughout the province.
In 2014, the B.C. government launched the Skills for Jobs Blueprint to re-engineer its education and training programs so British Columbians can get the skills they need to be first in line for jobs in the province.
The Sector Labour Market Partnerships Program is funded through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement. The program helps employers understand and respond to changing labour market demands, and ensures that training and education programs in B.C. are aligned with industry’s labour-market needs and priorities.
Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training–
“The technology industry is an important part of our province’s economy, creating thousands of jobs and investments in B.C. To keep B.C.’s economy strong, diverse and growing, we need to ensure that technology employers have the talent they need to expand, and that British Columbians have the skills they need to work in this growing sector.”
Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services—
“Through the #BCTECH Strategy, we are committed to providing British Columbians with the tech skills they need to enter the marketplace and contribute to the growth of B.C.’s tech sector. Our strategy responds to industry’s needs: providing coding in K-12; expanding co-op programs; and adjusting the training and education in post-secondary institutions. Ensuring students and adults have the right skills means they can contribute through a variety of exciting fields such as creating a greener earth in clean tech or improving lives through life sciences.”
Ian McKay, CEO, VEC –
“Vancouver's economic growth, the fastest of any city in Canada , has been driven largely by its emergence as a global technology hub. The entrepreneurs in our city are creating businesses that attract local and global talent. The talent in our city has in turn attracted some of the most innovative companies in the world. However, the companies we speak with every day simply can't get enough of that talent to sustain their rapid growth and reach their full potential. The LMP strategy will help Vancouver and all of British Columbia overcome this challenge and reach our full potential, as a leader in today's fierce race for talent and as the global centre for technology and innovation.”
Bill Tam, president, BC Technology Association –
“Talent is what fuels the B.C. technology industry. Building a solid foundation of human capital, whether home grown or globally sourced, is among our critical success factors. With growing concerns on the availability of talent, we’re pleased to be partnering with the province, the Vancouver Economic Commission and our industry colleagues on this Labour Market Partnership project.”
Jeremy Shaki, founder, Lighthouse Labs –
“Lighthouse Labs is committed to providing the industry specific training needed to support B.C.’s and Canada's growing tech industries. We’re proud to have graduated over 300 developers directly into B.C.’s talent pool in just over 2 years via our main Vancouver campus, as well as bring bootcamp education to the rapidly growing B.C. innovation hubs of Victoria and Kelowna. Training and fostering developer talent will continue to play a critical role in the success of our growing tech ecosystem. We're delighted to support the B.C. government’s initiative to work with industry to directly support the growth of the technology economy.”
Ryan Stratton, founder and CEO, Craftt, Lighthouse Labs mentor-approved –
“The craft beverage market is growing fast in B.C. Last year we created Craftt, a cloud native app designed for breweries to help manage their operations and logistics. We’re now working with 34 breweries across Canada and the U.S.
“I joined the VIATEC Accelerate Tectoria program in 2014 and they were instrumental in helping me launch Craftt. One of our toughest challenges has been sourcing talent. Programs like Lighthouse Labs are helping to reduce this employment gap by training junior developers with practical, real world skills.
“Like many other sectors, mentorship is a critical part of fostering talent in the technology sector. I’ve been working as a mentor for Lighthouse Labs students since they introduced the program in Victoria because it’s important to make the time and help shape future developers entering our community. It is impressive to see what these students can learn in such a short period of time.”
- British Columbia is a tech-driven economy. The various technology subsectors are: information and communications technology, cleantech, engineering, life sciences, and digital media.
- The technology sector directly employs more than 86,000 people, and wages for those jobs are 60% higher than B.C.’s industrial average.
- In 2013, the technology sector added $13.9 billion to B.C.’s GDP.
- B.C.’s 9,000 technology companies combined generated $23.3 billion in revenue in 2013.
#BCTECH Strategy: https://bctechstrategy.gov.bc.ca/
Sector Labour Market Partnerships Program:www.workbc.ca/sectorlabourmarketpartnerships
BC Jobs Plan: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/bcjobsplan/
B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: https://www.workbc.ca/Training-Education/B-C-s-Skills-for-Jobs-Blueprint.aspx
B.C. 2024 Labour Market Outlook: https://www.workbc.ca/Statistics/Labour-Market.aspx