EXCLUSIVE: A look inside Salesforce's TrailheaDX developer conference in SF

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ByChris Nguyen KGO logo
Thursday, March 29, 2018
Salesforce holds annual developer conference in San Francisco
Thousands of so-called Trailblazers are finding their way at this year's TrailheaDX developer conference, put on by Salesforce.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As America faces a growing shortage of developers in the technology world, Bay Area-based Salesforce is taking an active role in helping to bridge the gap.

"Nobody wants to be automated out of a job," says Sarah Franklin, Salesforce Trailhead and developer relations executive vice president and general manager. "We want to empower everybody to learn these skills that companies are hiring for."

ABC7 News was granted an exclusive look inside TrailheaDX, the company's annual sold-out developer conference in San Francisco. Salesforce executives say it's all about empowering the next generation of developers to be successful in the 21st century.

"I never thought that I would be the technical type, I never thought that I would get into this world, I thought it was way too advanced for me," says University of San Francisco student Sydney Smith, who is among the nearly 10,000 developers from over 40 countries attending the conference.

Students from Oakland's Urban Promise Academy spent the day learning from experts on how to code an app. The school was adopted by Salesforce as part of sf.citi's Circle the Schools initiative, which aims to connect companies with local classrooms.

"Such a powerful experience for my students, it's what I think every teacher dreams of," says Crystal Barajas Barr, Urban Promise Academy teacher. "Taking education outside of the classroom, out of those four walls,"

As the gap between the number of jobs being created and the number of skilled workers available to fill them continues to grow, America's developer drought could reach 500,000 over the next decade. To meet the demand, Salesforce's Trailhead program was launched in 2014, providing a free, gamified online learning platform in which users can gain hands-on experience.

"They've gone out on their own, they've creative jobs for themselves and really been successful in our economy," said Parker Harris, Salesforce chief technology officer and co-founder.

Turlock resident Jesse Grothaus, suffered a traumatic brain injury in a motor vehicle accident two years ago. As part of his recovery, doctors told him to learn a new language, so he took advantage of Trailhead and learned how to code. The Army veteran now runs his own Salesforce consulting firm.

"To not only have my life back, but be building a company to help other veterans get employed as well," says Grothaus. "There's no other words to describe it... it's incredible."

Salesforce will present its Equality Awards Wednesday night by recognizing five individuals across multiple industries for leveraging their platforms to create an equal world for all. The honorees include: Stevie Wonder, Evan Rachel Wood, Emily Chang, the late Mayor Ed Lee, and Shonnah Hughes.

TrailheaDX continues through Thursday at Moscone West.

Click here to learn more about TrailheaDX.