Get Coding Training, a Newfoundland and Labrador-based information technology jobs training company, is expanding throughout Atlantic Canada in the wake of strong demand from workers in more traditional industries looking to change careers.
Founded by CEO Jan Mertlik and CTO Sahand Seifi, Get Coding offers nine- to 12-month training courses designed to prepare participants to work professionally in the tech industry. Seifi said in an interview Get Coding differentiates itself from coding bootcamps, which have been a fixture of the technology sector for years, by designing its programming to accomodate students with day jobs. In addition to their routine coursework, students also have weekly sessions with a coach, during which they gain hands-on experience developing a real-world project.
Seifi and Mertlik are both serial entrepreneurs. Seifi co-founded St. John’s social media marketing company HeyOrca, and more recently is co-founder of NotificationAPI, which helps app developers add push notifications to their products. Mertlik has spent five years running his epnoymous Jan Mertlik web design and consulting business.
“Our program is made up of a few different modules — front-end development, back-end development, and so on — some coaches are familiar with all of that, some coaches are only familiar with parts of that,” said Seifi in an interview.
"We generally try to match students with coaches that have day-to-day interactions with the technology they’re teaching, so they can bring the most modern best practices for their students.”
Those coaches, of which there are 10 so far, are largely drawn from fast-growing startups like supply chain software-maker Milk Moovement and social media management platform Dash Hudson.
Seifi said Get Coding’s expansion strategy is to target regions with large work forces in legacy industries, but with rapidly modernizing economies — a combination of circumstances that creates high demand for services like Get Coding’s.
“I think that in the future, there’s opportunity for us to expand to other regions in Canada where older, traditional industries are having a hard time, and tech might be the new thing in those regions,” said Seifi. “A lot of our students come from that more traditional engineering background.”
So far, Get Coding has trained 25 people over three years, with graduates now working for businesses including professional training software-maker Bluedrop ISM and smart thermostat startup Mysa.
Seifi and Mertlik’s expansion announcement comes just days after data from Halifax early-stage venture capital fund Concrete Ventures indicated that the number of people working for Atlantic Canadian startups declined in the first quarter. Overall employment fell to about12,800 people — a level not seen since the worst days of the pandemic.
But Seifi said Get Coding has not so far seen a drop off in demand for coders from startups.
“In the startup world … They are definitely not oversized in their employee count,” he said. “If anything, they need more employees. They are small companies. And from what we're seeing, those small companies, if they have venture capital, if they have revenues, they are still hiring.
“Some of them might be preserving cash — and we have seen a few layoffs and in the Atlantic region — but even in those companies that perform layoffs, you still see open positions and hiring happening. I think that downturn in Atlantic Canada has not had a huge impact because most of the companies are very small companies who are naturally just growing and building their business.”