Coding for Veterans hopes to recruit K-W military vets for tech sector jobs

Coding for Veterans will be in Kitchener Tuesday to encourage military vets to join the tech industry.

Initiative hopes military vets can fill the skills gap in the IT sector

Jeff Musson is the executive director of Coding for Veterans. The organization is bringing its career caravan to Kitchener on Tuesday to recruit military veterans to take its courses. (Submitted by Jeff Musson)

A non-profit organization called Coding for Veterans hopes to help military veterans go from deployment to employment. 

The initiative aims to help Canadian veterans make the transition from military service into the information technology sector. 

Hoping to help the growing tech industry in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, the group is bringing its career caravan to the region Tuesday to recruit. 

"For us, it's more about awareness and getting word out to those veterans in southwestern Ontario if they're looking for a solid, stable career in tech," Jeff Musson, the executive director of Coding for Veterans, told CBC News. 

"Kitchener-Waterloo is the tech hub of Canada and wouldn't it be great if they hired more military veterans out of our program?"

Filling skills gap in IT 

Students in the course will earn mentorship and learn skills such as software development, computer programming and cyber security. It is a partnership with the University of Ottawa. All classes are held online. 

Veterans who qualify for the program will get their tuition fully covered by Veterans Affairs Canada. 

Musson says he was inspired to create Coding for Veterans because he wanted to fill in the skills gap the IT sector is currently facing. 

"Currently in the IT sector, it's projected about 182,000 jobs that are going to go unfilled in the next 24 months," he said. 

Musson adds that many veterans often go into policing and security after retirement. However, he realized that retired soldiers also have a lot of skills that can be transferred to the tech industry. 

Coding for Veterans has been travelling the province to recruit vets into the IT sector. They are partnering with the University of Ottawa to provide online courses to vets. (Submitted by Jeff Musson)

"If you look at the soft skills that someone in our military has — things like leadership, attention to detail, teamwork— those are the soft skills that make for the best software developers," Musson said. 

"What we are doing is we're identifying those that are leaving Canada's military, providing them with the retraining through the University of Ottawa and helping to fill that skills gap that the tech industry is facing."

Once students graduate from the course, Musson says the hope is to get them working in software development jobs or in cybersecurity. 

Musson understands that transitioning from the military to a tech job can be difficult. But so far, the reception from students has been positive. 

"When you talk to the students, it's a challenge. But as one of the students remarked earlier to us, you know, when has anyone from the military ever not taken on a challenge?" 

Those interested in Coding for Veterans can visit its career caravan outside of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 412 in Kitchener on Tuesday, November 3 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.