Sharpen Your Ruby on Rails Skills to Become a Hot Commodity Among Vancouver Startups

by Jay Holtslander | Startups

Vancouver is well known for having a thriving startup community and this exponential growth has brought upon a unique challenge: filling the many developer positions that are opening up in 2013.

Startups and larger companies alike are struggling to find the right talent with the right skills to fill these positions. Demand is far outpacing supply and this is motivating companies to entertain new methods for filling their needs for skilled developers.

“Ruby on Rails hiring has seen a big spike in two years in Vancouver. We’re riding the crest of the wave here at Clio and plan on taking our product team from 11 Rails developers to 20 by 2013. We’re competing against Silicon Valley companies opening up R&D shops here to take advantage of our lower costs, so it will be an interesting challenge.” - Simon Wilson, Clio

In the past, employers have used many traditional and non-traditional strategies to attract talent:

  • Posting job openings on email lists.
  • Attending and sponsoring meet ups.
  • Posting job openings on tech news and jobs websites.
  • Contacting developers directly via LinkedIn and other social media channels.
  • Offering bonuses to existing developers to refer friends.
  • Hiring intern students and training them to become full time employees.

“I've seen tons of complaints about there not being enough jobs here in Vancouver,” said one local entrepreneur. “But as far as software developers are concerned, it's the exact opposite. There are many great jobs available if you have the right skills that they are looking for.”

Indeed, a quick search through the Techvibes Job Board reveals many unfilled developer positions. Companies are looking for senior web developers, Ruby on Rails developers, software engineers, and more. Despite what may seem like a slowing economy, the startup and development community in Vancouver continues to grow and demand for skilled developers is growing faster than there is talent to fill those positions.

While many companies have turned to hiring brand new employees to fill these needs, they may not necessarily be attracting the right talent and the right skills. They have recruitment and training costs to consider and that's why many companies are also considering training existing employees to accept newer responsibilities.

This can be significantly easier and more cost-effective for organizations, since they can eliminate the costs that are associated with new hires. While some companies are investing in building their own internal e-learning portals, this may not be appropriate for all situations. Off-site training, in this way, can sometimes be a much better solution.

For people who are currently in the job market, like new graduates, attending off-site training workshops alongside currently employed people who are expanding their skill set can prove invaluable. Existing developers are likely already familiar in other programming languages and in other contexts, so expanding those skills to accommodate a broader range of responsibilities is a win-win for everyone involved. The more languages and applications that a developer knows, the more likely he or she can fit into the positions being posted by Vancouver's tech community.

Different companies have different needs. You may find a posting for a SharePoint Developer, for instance, that would require specific expertise with that framework. Another employer may seek someone with a broader set of experience for web development, needing skills in PHP and MongoDB, as well as hands-on knowledge with APIs for major social media platforms.

The hot programming language of the day is Ruby on Rails, thanks largely to the framework's eloquence and ease of use. Many companies already have developers on their staff who are work with C++, Java and PHP. These employees can be easily trained on Ruby on Rails, since they already have a firm grasp on the fundamentals. In like manner, co-op students and new graduates are afforded the opportunity to gain real working experience with Ruby on Rails projects by attending these workshops.

We were surprised to find that there weren't many Ruby on Rails courses currently available in Vancouver. TamTon Networking is hosting a six-week workshop starting in February, led by experienced Ruby on Rails developer Tamman Kbeili. Seating is limited, so you are encouraged to register early. The sign-up page for the course can be found here.

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Jay Holtslander

Jay Holtslander

Jay is a freelance developer and designer based in Vancouver, BC. He has been doing front-end development for client mobile apps and SaaS solutions for the last three years, during which time he has further developed his UI and UX experience. Previously he was the founder and CEO of a local game development studio that published titles for clients such as 20th Century Fox. He has worked as a... more

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