By Danny Wu
“Congratulations, [generic boot camp campany] Class of 2019, we wish you the best of luck in your feature endeavors” said the CEO of a tech boot camp where 30 students have just received their software engineering certifications. More and more we are seeing the growing trend of people enrolling into boot camps to gain the skills necessary for employment within a matter of a couple of months. Much cause for the rise of these companies stems from the idea of “Every company is racing to build apps faster. They need developers and platforms that can move as fast as their business” (Duffner). Coding boot camps such as Codeup, Hack Reactor, and Dev Bootcamp “immerse students in how to be a programmer” (Duffner) within the span of “two- to three-months” (Duffner). It may be worthwhile for institutions in higher education to take a look at these boot camps and find out if elements of the boot camp style can be incorporated into a traditional education setting and if higher education needs to change as a result as well.
A unique concept of boot camps is the immersion that is possible for students to truly dive into the field versus the traditional courses of meeting twice of week for a few hours. For many boot camps “student spend 700 hours with instructors” (Duffner) instead of the “hour or two a month with more senior developers” (Duffner) when it comes to their first job. In addition, many boot camps have employer partners to hire directly from boot camps with “Codeup itself boasts a list of 55 employer partners, and 87% of its graduates have been hired or given job offers.” (Duffner). While many institutions are adapting with courses in emerging fields such as machine learning or data science, there is still the issue of having a disconnect between the subject matter and the realities of applying it to industry. Tech boot camps being able to connect directly to employers allows for readjustment of their courses to specifically target what employers need from their workforce. Education may be trending towards developing a particular skill set that employers value enough for employment rather than gaining broad knowledge of a particular field.
However, boot camps are recent developments of education and aren’t necessarily guarantees of a meaningful education or gaining employment. Many boot camps aren’t successful. For instance, two large schools backed by the large for-profit companies are Kaplan and the Apollo Education Group” (Lohr). One of the reasons for these closings is that “Many boot camps have not evolved beyond courses in basic development, but companies are now often looking for more advanced coding skills.” (Lohr). Many boot camps are adapting with additional courses in fields such as digital marketing, and project management. It seems that even learning new tech skills is not enough, but also a mindset of continuous learning to adapt to changes as businesses and corporations change, a constant cycle of learning about what is currently being utilized, while knowing that it may be devalued within a few years. Only time will tell with enough data will we know if this approach of employment based learning catered on technological changes is the best approach for education and our students.
Lohr, Steve. “As Coding Boot Camps Close, the Field Faces a Reality Check.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 24 Aug. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/08/24/technology/coding-boot-camps-close.html.
Robert Duffner, Salesforce.com. “The Rise of the Coding Boot Camp.” Wired, Conde Nast, 7 Aug. 2015, www.wired.com/insights/2014/08/rise-coding-boot-camp/.