When Lighthouse Labs debuted The HTML500 in Vancouver last February, it garnered 500 attendees and attracted 1,300 hopefuls on the waitlist — sign of a clear demand for basic coding skills in Canada.
That success led Jeremy Shaki, founder of The HTML500, to offer the one-day event at communities across the country, including in London, Feb. 7, at the London Convention Centre (300 York St.).
Lighthouse Labs runs was looking to push coding education forward in Canada with the goal, Shaki said, of “eradicating” the stigma that exists around coding.
“We wanted to build something of a spectacle, so that the conversation can continue with everyone understanding that everyone can learn to code,” said Shaki, who is also Chief Talking Officer for Lighthouse Labs. “Not everyone can be a developer, but everyone can code.”
Shaking describes coding as the act of building a digital set of instructions. While Shaki there is an artistic, creative component to the effort that allows people to express their creativity in very practical, fundamental ways.
Coding and tech in general is making its way into every industry, according to Shaki.
His hope is that by promoting events like The HTML500 people will become more comfortable in dealing with tech while keeping a mind open to ideas that would improve one’s life, industry, career.
The original conference was supposed to be a one-off event, but it became evident with all the people who came forward asking Lighthouse Labs to run events with them that The HTML500 had something that was repeatable in different cities and really push the conversation around digital literacy across Canada.
In many respects, that is exactly why Deb Mountenay, executive director of the Workforce Planning and Development Board, was so interested in bringing The HTML500 to London.
Mountenay said there are a lot of issues faced by the technology sector, including the need to attract the talent that is needed to address the many job openings it has available in the Forest City.
With the event last year in Vancouver being such a big success, Mountenay said the development board got together with London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) and TechAlliance, to contact Lighthouse Labs about putting together something in the Forest City.
For some people, Mountenay said, the conference might give participants a taste about what they might want to do for a living. For the city’s tech sector, it helps to highlight the amount of businesses in the London area and put it on a Canadian scale.
“This isn’t a small, micro-industry; it is an area continuing to grow and London is a leader in some of those technology areas, particularly in the banking industry and the gaming industry,” Mountenay said. “Putting London on that broader map helps to attract the higher-end skills that some of our businesses are looking for.”
Kapil Lakhotia, LEDC president and CEO, who expects 500 people to come out for the London event, said coding is a hook to get people together while the broader mandate is to make people aware of the tech sector and the long-term opportunities it represents.
Lakhotia said coding also gets people interested in not only the coding language, but all the other opportunities, such as visual arts, sound and media production.
And like Shaki, Lakhotia said having an event like The HTML500 promotes the need for a much larger conversation around the tech sector.
“There is certain a need in the community to promote tech literacy, digital literacy, science, mathematics, engineering literacy,” Lakhotia said. “These are all things that will help us create professional opportunities around our knowledge-based economy. It is our talent, and the education and our skills, which will separate us from the rest of the world.”
For more information, or to register, visit www.thehtml500.com.