Coding for veterans provides IT training for former military members

CTV Windsor News Rich Garton  Reporter


Every year, 7,000 members of Canada’s military forces leave their posts for a civilian life.

What comes after service can be a daunting feeling, according to Andrew Kennedy, who served in the Canadian Armed Forces from 2008 to 2014.

He was a gunner in the second regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery in Petawawa when he suffered an injury in a training exercise. He was medically released from service.

“All the sudden to find out, I’m going to be put back into the civilian world, where unfortunately, a lot of the very job-specific skillsets that I learned in the artillery weren’t exactly going to be translatable into any kind of civilian career,” Kennedy says.

A few years later, he stumbled upon Coding for Veterans, a course which helps retrain current and former service members for jobs in Canada’s tech sector.

The courses focus on software development and cyber security and are offered 100 per cent online through the University of Ottawa. Tuition for eligible service members is fully covered by Veterans Affairs Canada.

“These veterans go from protecting Canada on the battlefield to protecting them in cyberspace,” says Jeff Musson, the executive director of the program.

Musson, whose background is in the information technology sector, says 147,000 IT jobs will go unfilled in the next 12-18 months.

He adds the job placement rate for Coding for Veterans graduates is 95 per cent, which is amazing considering many people who enter the program have almost no prior background in IT.

“They’ve sacrificed not only their time and put themselves out there for their country, what better way can we thank them by providing high-paying, stable jobs that will provide a career not only today but into the future,” Musson says.

On Thursday, Musson was at the Toronto Stock Exchange, ringing the opening bell to kick off the day’s trading. He calls it a symbolic gesture to show Canada’s top companies the value of hiring a veteran.

“It’s really a way to promote an opportunity and avenue for businesses in Canada to understand the value that someone from the military can bring to their companies,” says Musson.

Now a graduate, Andrew Kennedy is working as an IT service support technician for the Municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc and is also an instructor with Coding for Veterans.

Once serving his country, Kennedy is now providing a service for his community.

“It is a great course and it is very rewarding,” says Kennedy.