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Will coding boot camps replace the university degrees

The IT industry has one big problem among many. It’s the serious lack of developers. Qualified coders are not enough hence the rise of coding boot camps.

There are several good reasons why coding boot camps are on the rise and why the business is welcoming them. And that’s despite its doubt it is better than traditional university degrees.

Education is changing. Sadly, it might not be changing as fast as the business needs. But even quite a few companies are still not exactly sure what needs to change and they are stuck on preferring the old ways.

The old ways feature a four-year stint at a college or a university to gain a degree. Then you may want to spend another year or two for another degree or specialty. By that time you’ve lost four to six years of job experience. Granted, a lot of students start working during their studying, but that simply leaves them overstressed and spread over several different tasks at the same time. In the end they can’t really give 100% to their studies, nor for their job.

During this entire time the business needs more and more skilled workers to continue to grow. The traditional education system simply can’t keep up with the demand. And by a lot.

The rise of coding boot camps

The situation is especially grim in countries where the education system is already lacking a modern touch. For example, in Bulgaria, universities still continue to pump out lawyers by a staggering amount which overflows the entire market. By contrast, the Bulgarian IT industry needs about 30 000 coders right now just to keep its current position let alone go continue to grow.

Hence, for a few years now, IT companies in the country have been training their own talent. They are open to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you have a degree of any sort. What matters is that you want to code and have the desire to learn and improve. They are using their own top talent to train people along with known leaders in the local industry. It’s still not enough to offset the strong hunger for coders, but it helps, especially since the educational reform is too busy thinking about how to change the names of the schools which is very important for some reason.

Similar coding boot camps have sprung all over Europe. Now they are making their way towards the US where they are also enjoying success. The Wall Street Journal has posted about The Flatiron School. It costs $15 000 (most coding boot camps in Bulgaria and Europe are virtually free) and it wants your full attention for 12 weeks. Afterwards though, the doors of the big names are open to you. More than 9 in 10 lands a job within six months at Google, Kickstarter and other top companies. The average starting salary is impressive: $74 447. Not bad for 12 weeks studying, right? Even if there’s no certification or diploma at all.

Such private academies give the business what it needs: skilled workers. Fast. Faster than any educational system can even dream of providing. But are companies are happy with the coding boot camps and their quality? Or are they simply hiring their talent out of necessity?

Is this THE solution?

Google has said it has studied the efficiency of these private academies. The company has found that while the camps have shown promise, most of their graduates weren’t prepared for software engineering without additional training or prior experience, Maggie Johnson, Google’s director of education and university relations, said in an email to WSJ.

Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, says coding academies offer an alternative to traditional degrees, but is skeptical the model can work broadly outside of technical fields.

But there is still room to grow. Coding boot camps and private academies are still in their early stages. Since they don’t follow regulatory approvals, they are free to change as they see fit and experiment with different methods. Flatiron for example approves only 6% of applicants, making it almost as selective as Harvard. Other coding boot camps accept pretty much everyone as long as they pass a simple test. Some even have free lessons to get you to pass the test.

So, will educational boot camps replace traditional university degrees? Probably no, at least not for all professions. But for coding they are becoming a great alternative as long as you actually go into a respected one, because there are many copy-cats out selling false hopes.

What’s for sure is that both the university degree and the coding boot camps only provide the foundation. In order to continue to hone your skills and build your resume you will need to get certified for certain platforms. Additional trainings can only add to your skillset and drive you up the ladder and ahead of the game.

Image credit: Flickr (CC) / Ryan Brooks