'Coding for Veterans' program looks to connect Canadian troops with careers in the tech industry
TORONTO -- A program with a mission to bring Canadian troops from “deployment to employment” was in Toronto on Wednesday, looking to spread its message and recruit new students.
“Coding for Veterans is an organization that helps military veterans to retrain for jobs in Canada’s tech sector,” says executive director Jeff Musson. “We’ve partnered in with the University of Ottawa to deliver the program 100 per cent online, and the tuition’s free for veterans because it’s paid through Veteran’s Affairs Canada.”
The 8-month full-time or 24-month part-time program was designed to help veterans transition from military to civilian life with a stable career working in tech.
“There’s about a 182,000 IT jobs that are projected to go unfilled in the next couple of years,” Musson explains. “Those tech jobs are surviving the pandemic, unlike other sectors.”
The Coding for Veterans program offers one stream for software development and another for cyber security.
“It’s been a very interesting challenge,” says Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Szabunio, who recently became enrolled in Coding for Veterans. “It very literally is like learning a brand new language.”
“What I’ve really gained from the program is an understanding of how does the code get written, how does it connect to the internet or the iPhones that we’re using these days, and then how does it connect to the bigger picture of how an organization is run and operates,” he adds.
After his years of military service, David Rojas found out about the program and enrolled in September.
“I already had the bug in my mind to go into a career for cyber security, and I was a little bit daunted by the fact that there wasn’t really a defined path to get there,” Rojas tells CTV News Toronto. “I reached out to the program and that’s where I made my intro to it.”
Rojas believes he has a great career ahead of him in the tech sector.
“I see that it blends so well with the skills that I learned in the Canadian Forces and being able to apply that to future problems right now,” he says.
“If you actually look at the soft skills someone from our military has – attention to detail, leadership, teamwork, can-do attitude, those are exactly the skills that you want,” says Musson.
Szabunio agrees, adding that veterans are used to working and learning virtually.
“We’re able to work with complex situations and problems and challenges, break them apart, and approach them in a systematic methodical manner,” he says. “And the whole coding program is very much about doing that.”
The goal of Coding for Veterans is to mutually benefit the tech sector and help those who have served our country.
“It makes me proud as a Canadian to be able to help give back to our military heroes,” says Musson.
“Veterans have to go through a very difficult transition that most people take for granted,” says Rojas. “Anything we can do to make that transition more streamline I think is worth any price that we could lay down for it.”
Coding for Veterans will be enrolling new students in January and May of 2021.