Student Jakob Grant at work in the classrooms at Nelson’s Tenth Street Campus.

It’s one of the most in-demand tech sector jobs in Canada and in the first year of being offered at the Selkirk College Tenth Street Campus, the Web Development Program is already emboldening the lives of learners keen to join the industry.

Last winter, 30 year old Jakob Grant was working for minimum wage as a dishwasher in a Slocan Valley restaurant when he decided the annual routine of picking fruit in the summer and simply trying to survive through the winter needed to change. That’s when heard about a new program in Nelson that focused on preparing students with the skills and knowledge required to start a career as a full stack web application developer.

“I like the independence and the problem solving,” says Grant, who has friends already working in the field. “Even though I knew my way around a computer, I didn’t really know anything about coding… I would see a screen of code and say ‘no way.’ Now it’s really awesome, it’s addicting once you learn more and more.”

Originally from Regina, Grant’s first taste of post-secondary was in the trades when he took welding straight out of high school in his home province of Saskatchewan. For more than a decade, Grant moved around from working in construction to employment at a hardware store in Calgary to eventually moving to the West Kootenay where he came for the beauty of the mountains and managed to find enough work to hang on.

When he found out Selkirk College was training students to work on the front-end and back-end of web development, Grant was intrigued. He was hooked once he found out that the program teaches coding skills and agile web development business practices to solve real world problems and support organizations to meet the demands of the ever-changing digital landscape.

Though nervous about plunging back into a regular routine of learning after so many years away from the classroom, Grant took a chance and enrolled in the new program. “Right from day one, it has been so much different than my high school experience where it didn’t seem relevant or interesting to me,” says the current straight A student. “Even though the tests might be hard, they want you to succeed and you genuinely feel supported. It’s a whole other experience to be doing something you want to do, every new course and every new day in class is building on my interest.”

The web development program is specifically designed to be responsive to today’s tech industry needs. Once Grant and the rest of the first cohort graduate in the spring, they will enter an industry hungry for new recruits.

When he thinks about his future in the sector, it’s difficult to wipe the smile off Grant’s face.

“I have heard other people say that coding saved their life,” he says. “I feel in many ways that is true, it has given me a sense of direction and purpose. It’s one of the best decisions that I have made in my life.”

You can learn more about the Selkirk College web development program at: www.selkirkcollegearts.ca/programs/web-development/

– Bob Hall