HTML 500: Vancouver’s free coding camp attracts 2,000-plus on waitlist, combines with tech job fair


Gillian Shaw | Vancouver Sun

VANCOUVER — Coding is the new black.

At least if the more than 2,000 people on the waitlist for a 500-person free learn-to-code in Vancouver is any indication of a growing popularity for techno-skills that were once dismissed as important only to nerds and geeks.

And it’s with good reason. Where it used to be fashionable to boast of your inability to program a VCR, for upcoming generations that haven’t even heard of a VCR, being seen as a techno illiterate isn’t a plus – it can be a career drag.

Reinforcing that notion, the second annual HTML 500, Canada’s largest learn-to-code event, will also have a career fair on site, funded by the Vancouver Economic Commission.

“We were blown away by how well it went last year and how many people were interested,” said Jeremy Shaki, co-founder of Lighthouse Labs, which launched the first HTML 500 last year and has taken it to cities across Canada.

Last year, there were 1,300 people on the waitlist for 500 spaces, this year there are more than 2,200 vying for the 500 spots. More than half last year’s attendees were women and it attracted wannabe coders aged 143 to 65.

“Our goal is to open people’s eyes to the power of creation,” said Shaki. “Through code you can create.”

Telus, the VEC and the BC Innovation Council are founding sponsors and they have been joined by 250 other sponsors and by 500 developers donating their time for the events.

“By the end of the day everyone has created their own landing page,” said Shaki. “It’s a considerable amount, our goal is to ensure everybody has created something.

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