Sunday

Coding Boot Camps Produce Talent but Leave Many on the Sidelines

To say coding boot camps have exploded in popularity is a bit of an understatement. The in-person sector of the industry has experienced a 705% overall growth rate since 2013, according to a Course Report study. Coding boot camps currently bring in over $300 million annually and will graduate upward of 23,000 students just this year. The growth of coding boot camps is undeniably impressive.


Coding camps were created as both an accessible alternative to a four-year college degree.


Coding camps were created as both an accessible alternative to a four-year college degree, and a way to provide companies in need of talent with a fresh pool of candidates. However, boot camp tuition has risen steadily and now hovers around $13,000 on average.


These programs also launched to provide an accelerated substitute for traditional higher education pathways. A coding boot camp lasts around 15 weeks on average for in-person camps and 24 weeks for online courses.


Coding boot camps are accelerated learning for an in-demand skill.


Yes, coding boot camps certainly act as an accelerated (and often more affordable) option for individuals who want to gain in-demand tech skills without the college price tag. But this education model still only caters to a specific group of people.


Considering the demands of today’s workforce — we can’t afford to leave anyone with the desire to enter the industry behind.


Unfortunately, the individuals pushed away by the coding boot camp industry are the same ones vastly underrepresented in technology.


Only 1% of boot camp graduates are black, and just around a fifth of programs cater to women specifically. Some boot camps are now more selective and prefer applicants to have existing tech skills or work experience. Using a narrow selection process makes these courses even more inaccessible to the very groups that need barriers lowered to even enter the industry.


Making coding boot camps available and reachable.


Given the current climate of making boot camps less attainable isn’t a trend that the forces in tech should encourage. We need more accessible alternatives to coding boot camps — ones that cater to individuals who are driven to enter the tech industry but lack a clear way to learn the necessary skills.


Technology skills are more relevant than ever.


The problems boot camps were created to address are also more vexing than ever before. The cost of a four-year degree, for instance, has increased eight times faster than wages in the same time period.


Recognizing that college tuition costs are out of reach for many individuals means affordable coding camps are still the ideal alternative. Those who don’t want to rack up massive amounts of student debt, or even worse, those who can’t rack up debt need this viable option of coding camps.


We need these additional coding individuals.


The tech industry is also contending with 700,000 unfilled jobs. Even with cheaper college and university tuition, these traditional pipelines will struggle to train that many students.


Because boot camps are lean, agile, and specialized — they’re a better option for equipping workers with the skills companies need today.


In response to the steep demands of digital transformation, companies are already rushing to teach employees exactly the kinds of skills coding boot camps focus on. Corporate training partnerships grew by 34% between 2018 and 2019, according to Course Report, and almost as many people graduate from these programs as traditional boot camps.


Providing value.


It’s clear that boot camps offer immense value for both the students and employers. But the industry itself arguably produces a talent pool that mirrors the one cultivated by traditional education pipelines.


Ensuring a better future.


Boot camps clearly don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and they continue to be an effective way to enter the tech industry for some. However, there’s still a dire need for better options, and they should aim to offer lower (or zero) tuition costs.


After all, sky-high costs for students lead to under-enrolled camps and an even more homogeneous group of technologists.


Beyond this, these alternative options must be accessible for students with full-time jobs or family responsibilities.


Most boot camps expect a full-time commitment — a huge hurdle for students with jobs they can’t afford to lose and families to care for. To accommodate these students, reimagined camps should offer flexible learning schedules so students don’t have to upend their lives for weeks and weeks of intensive training.


Finding a career pathway.


Finally, though boot camps can’t promise graduates jobs after completing their programs, they still need to play a role in prepping students for new career paths. To ensure better outcomes, boot camps can incorporate job readiness and soft-skills training in addition to tech training.


Creating strong individuals — and not just strong technologists.


When we understand the value of improving graduates’ job prospects and helping tech companies fill their ranks faster — we will be creating strong individuals.


The massive tech talent gap.


The tech talent gap is massive, and there’s certainly a need for coding boot camps and the technologists they add to the workforce.


As the industry grows, the need for more affordable and accessible boot camp alternatives is evident.


There are still countless driven, passionate candidates sitting on the sidelines. In order to make a dent in the tech talent shortage, we need solutions that get them in the game.


Image Credit: nesa-by-makers–unsplash







Jeff Mazur



Executive Director for LaunchCode


Jeff Mazur is the executive director for LaunchCode, a nonprofit aiming to fill the gap in tech talent by matching companies with trained individuals.