When Hanna Kim enrolled in an intensive 10-week course in web development, she had no background in technology and no idea where it might take her. She did know one thing: she was training for the future where the best opportunities in the employment market require a digital comprehension and skillset.

Kim, 24, graduated with a geography degree in 2014, but knew her education couldn’t stop there. She enrolled in a Toronto-based e-commerce certificate course, and it helped to land her a job doing marketing for a small start-up. The start-up life was a hit, but she just couldn’t talk the talk with developers, a challenge that she wanted to overcome.

This year’s focus was getting to a point where she could walk the walk — building websites herself thanks to the full-time learning opportunity at BrainStation that allowed her to learn in a classroom boasting a six to one student-to-teacher ratio to maximize the hands-on coding time. After completing the program, Kim continued to refine her skills by advancing her online portfolio and collaborating with others. She transitioned to help the next cohort of students as a teaching assistant and soon after became the program’s coordinator in Toronto. All of her hard work to develop herself as a technologist paid off recently when she was presented with the opportunity that she had been dreaming about with a major Canadian athletic wear company.

“The growth in digital jobs has outpaced the overall economy in the last two years by over four to one”

“To stay afloat in business, understanding technology is one of the most important things you can do to equip yourself for the future,” says Kim. She says her tech knowledge is what gave her a boost in the job interview, because her role encompasses a wide knowledge base in all things digital.
“I pitched them my ideas to make things more efficient and a better experience for guests — not just in stores but online,” she says. Kim’s understanding of the digital landscape proved to be the key differentiator, even in a role that doesn’t require her to actually code at all.

Tech skills gap continues to widen

When evaluating continuing education options, look for tech-based programs hosting evening and weekend workshops on topics like Google analytics and social media strategy, as well as speaker series or lunch-and-learns with influencers from big tech companies. Participants like Airbnb, Uber, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Slack are positive signs because it brings the real world into the classroom where you can grow in ways that a one-track program would not.

There are many new training opportunities — which are often shorter and less expensive than a semester at college or university — for those looking to take advantage of the booming tech sector.

“The growth in digital jobs has outpaced the overall economy in the last two years by over four to one,” according to a recent national report by the Information and Communications Technology Council.

In Canada, the information and communications (ICT) sector (think software, telecom, smart retail, and manufacturing) employed over 877,470 professionals across various industries last year, and this demand will continue to grow with sector expansion. As our society continues to live more of their life online, our workforce must think in a new way and evolve their skill set to keep up, or else the gap will only continue to widen between supply of digitally competent talent and what the economy requires to thrive.

It’s not all coding. A growing phenomenon indicates traditional jobs are changing with the rapid advance of new technologies. Ask Hanna Kim. While knowledge of building websites isn’t core to her roles and responsibilities in her dream job, it is a huge component of what allows her to take a holistic view of the brand’s business experience in both the physical and digital space. After absorbing that kind of business sense at BrainStation, “it just seemed like second nature to me,” she says. Hanna’s journey has included a lot of hard work and determination, but also the foresight to see into the future of what the workforce needs. She is now on a fast track to make a big difference in an industry that she’s always been passionate about.