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Coding for Veterans: Program that retrains vets for IT jobs hopes for more Indigenous participants

Click to play video: 'Veteran’s coding program seeks more Indigenous applicants' Veteran’s coding program seeks more Indigenous applicants
WATCH: The creator of a program called Coding for Veterans is trying to connect with more Indigenous applicants. His goal is to help give them the skills to start a new career after military service. Shelley Steeves reports – Sep 30, 2021

A program that offers veterans retraining after military service is hoping to recruit more Indigenous applicants who are interested in learning coding.

Jeff Musson, the executive director of Coding for Veterans, had a tent set up in front of a Moncton legion on Thursday, trying to spread the word.

“With (National) Truth and Reconciliation Day, we really want to do outreach to those Indigenous peoples who have served in the Armed Forces, not only to highlight their service to Canada but also their opportunity to transition into a job in the tech sector,” he said.

Read more: Truth and reconciliation — N.B. chiefs criticize decision not to recognize holiday

Former or serving Armed Forces members accepted into the program are trained as software developers and cybersecurity professionals, for which there is a critical shortage in Canada, according to Musson.

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“In Canada, there is over 147,000 IT jobs projected to go unfilled and these are good and high-paying jobs,” he explained.

Musson, who also owns an IT company, started Coding for Veterans two and a half years ago. So far, about 200 Canadian veterans have graduated, but fewer than 10 have been from Indigenous communities and he would like to see those numbers increase.

“It is a power combination that employers are looking for in their workforce because it helps with diversity and it helps with culture within companies,” he said.

Read more: The Truth about Reconciliation — How a day isn’t enough

Bill Ridley-Williams, who served in the military in the 1980s, is currently enrolled in the program. He said there are Indigenous IT companies across the country trying to expand in the tech sector.

“(They’re) trying to grow their footprint in that environment. Businesses are trying to employ Indigenous trained people if they can get the schooling,” he said.

All training is completed online. Veterans who have served at least six years will have their tuition paid in full through Veterans Affairs Canada’s education and training benefit.

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