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Johanna Mikkola’s quest to fill 500,000 jobs

“My first week in Miami was funny because I did not see the beach. Everyone who lives outside Mami thought that’s the only thing we were doing. I love that it’s a little bit of a secret still that there’s more to Miami than the beaches — that there’s this incredible ecosystem,” said Johanna Mikkola.

When Mikkola and her husband Juha moved to Miami from Canada to open Wyncode, a code school, they had most of their expectations right. They knew Miami was more than beaches (though their friends may not have), and that the entrepreneurial ecosystem was growing.

Two years later, they’ve graduated several classes from their Wynwood coding program, and are underway with a new program in Fort Lauderdale.

You were deliberately looking for a new city to open a coding school. Why did you end up deciding on Miami?

It’s a really great time to be here. And a lot of times success is measured on good timing. The other thing we believe in is that technology is taking over everything. With that what we think is that every city will have a tech hub in its own right.

Miami represents a unique opportunity because it’s a beautiful, wonderful place to live, there’s incredible people here, and it’s a gateway to Latin America. There’s a lot of vibrancy, and that’s an opportunity to create a tech hub that’s a little different from everything else.

We’re not trying to be the full alternative to a four-year degree. We just want to be a bridge to help people jump into a job from day one. This is a skill anyone can take on who’s passionate to build and create. It’s not necessarily who you think it’s going to be.

What role do coding schools play in the broader Miami startup ecosystem?

What will happen with the technology workforce over the next few years in Miami?

We have a 90% placement rate since launching the program. The thing we’re noticing is that companies are moving away from remote teams and bringing their development teams here to South Florida. Once they hire one they come back to hire more.

In addition to there being 500,000 computing jobs open at this moment, by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computing jobs open, for which there are only a projected 400,000 candidates. That means there’s a huge deficit we have to fill.

With all of those open positions, especially in an emerging ecosystem like Miami, there are a lot of startups who don’t post jobs in the traditional way, and are going through their network and word of mouth. That’s why we pride ourselves on having great relationships with startups in the ecosystem.

The other thing that’s happening with open positions now is people are hiring remote workers because they can’t hire talent fast enough, or word hasn’t spread. Not everyone knows the options are out there.

What does success look like?

We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think Miami would be a success. We hope that companies here continue to grow and do great things and build their own teams, and that other companies see the opportunities here and start to grow the ecosystem. It’s all about building momentum right now and keeping the momentum going. Doing a lot of hard work, putting our heads down, being successful in our right and hoping that contributes to the success of the larger ecosystem.

We do hopefully get more of that national level attention so more people hear about what’s going on here.

What do you tell people who might be interested in technology but don’t think they can learn to code?