Colin Mansell is a 36-year-old entrepreneur from England who manages one of Vancouver’s many tech companies.
Like others in the industry, he’s thrilled about the growth that the tech sector is enjoying, and is enthusiastic about what lies ahead.
“The tech sector is blowing up,” said Mansell. “There are enormous amounts of jobs about to be created.”
But this enthusiasm is also met with caution.
“Currently the education sector is only producing 400,000 people for 1.4 million jobs,” he said, citing a study by American tech industry tracker Code.org.
This deficit of skilled labor for tech industry positions is what motivated Mansell and his partners to open Red Academy.
The newly launched school will be opening this July on the corner of Broadway and Granville, and hopes to train professionals for tech-related positions.
During its first summer session, Red Academy will run basic skills courses in coding, web design, and digital marketing that last four weeks.
Once the fall semester starts in September, the school will be offering more intensive programs that run five days a week, eight hours a day, for three months.
“You're working hard, but at the end of it you're going to have some skills that will directly transfer into getting a decent job,” Mansell said.
Mandi Wise, who will be the head instructor at Red Academy, explained that the programs will focus on experiential learning and mentorship.
“We want the experience to be really hands on for students,” said Wise.
Wise calls herself an “expat of traditional educational environments”, and says that as opposed to traditional university programs, students at Red Academy will engage with professional clients and work on real-world projects.
This will allow students to access a network of hiring partners that the school will be working with.
Inside the classroom, close collaboration and high teacher-to-student ratio will also differentiate Red Academy from other computer science courses.
Wise hopes that this intimate environment will help close another of the tech sector’s important deficits—that of women in the workforce.
“For women there are often barriers to entering the tech industry that are both systemic and cultural,” Wise explained. “A lot of girls just don’t have exposure to technology at a young age.”
These barriers are seen in big companies such as Google, Facebook, and Yahoo, where less than a third of the workforce is made up of women.
Red Academy hopes to increase the amount of women in the tech sector by providing personalized support to its students and offering discounts to women who want to enroll in its programs.
"We want to bring more women into tech and see them succeed in the same way that the guys are," Mansell said.