By 2028, the tech industry will predictably experience a 21% increase in demand for software engineering talent, compared to a growth rate of 5% for all other occupations. Traditional universities, striving to keep pace, have readjusted their curricula and launched new concentrations, degrees and certificate programs to fill the skills gap. However, the efforts of conventional education players will not be enough to fill the growing talent gap.
Opportunistically, around 2011, the industry reacted.
Instead of taking a 4-year college or 2-year graduate program to learn relevant technical skills, a student could enroll in an intensive bootcamp that promised a compressed learning journey (3-6 months) , a guaranteed placement and an accelerated career. ambitions.
In many ways, this model has paid off for hopefuls in the tech industry. Dozens of bootcamps boast placement rates around 90% and possess a feverish dedication to student-focused growth and development.
However, not all bootcamps are created equal. Impersonators, scammers and unethical actors have created bootcamps selling nothing more than debt, headaches and doubts.
Before signing up for a bootcamp, consider the following reasons:
1) Bootcamps are not recession proof
Bootcamps primarily emerged into public consciousness shortly after the 2008 recession. Since then, they have enjoyed a period of reasonable growth before several have closed their doors Where consolidated. In a downturn in the market, bootcamps – operating on cash flow from tuition fees – could see mass closures, while universities – cushioned by a public endowment – can use reserve funds to cover professors, facilities and operations. If a bootcamp stops, the certificate and brand value disappear immediately.
2) The programs are neither standardized nor accredited
Each bootcamp maintains its own curriculum, format, structure, and learning plan. Unlike colleges, bootcamps do not have a governing body that certifies that new programs meet the acceptable quality threshold. As a result, the effectiveness of training varies enormously from program to program. Worse still, some programs do not have a single representative of academia (eg, professor, researcher, administrator) in their leadership ranks—only entrepreneurs, engineers, or industry luminaries.
3) Bootcamps are for-profit businesses
In late 2019, Pheonix University agreed to forgive $141 million in student debt to settle allegations that deceptive marketing tactics were used to recruit students to the institution. Curiously, bootcamps do not hesitate to deploy similar strategies. They feature high placement rates and FAANG company logos on all their web pages and marketing materials. Online webinars, incessant emails and aggressive discounts serve to entice candidates to apply or register. Being for-profit is not, in and of itself, a black mark, but given the highly competitive market of bootcamps all vying to be profitable, the priority of filling seats can overshadow the true goal of educating students. Be aware of programs that scale too aggressively, hire instructors too quickly, or admit students too easily.
4) Instructors lack pedagogical training
If the old adage that “those who don’t know, teach” is to be accepted, then the reverse may also be true: “those who know, cannot teach”. Captains of industry, many of whom have achieved unprecedented professional success, take on coaching roles at bootcamps. The majority do a phenomenal job, but the bootcamps themselves do a disservice to the ill-equipped minority to teach properly. The process of breaking down complex principles into smaller sub-components is a learned art, and not everyone can be thrown into an instructor role without the proper training. People don’t become teachers overnight, and bootcamps have a responsibility to educate their instructors on the principles of learning, the fundamentals of teaching, and the best practices for being an effective educator.
And now ? Is this long-running manifesto driven by a deep desire to move all students from bootcamps to college classrooms?
The goal is to encourage people to ask questions, weigh options and make informed decisions. Before applying for a bootcamp, you must:
- Ask the bootcamp to send you an anonymized list of past graduates with their current salaries and job titles.
- Ask bootcamp how many graduates are placed in jobs within the Field of study and not outside of it.
- Do a LinkedIn search of previous students and ask about their experience in the program.
- Compare bootcamp prices and explore available scholarships for underrepresented communities.
- Understand the bootcamp learning plan (eg, projects only, formal curriculum, apprenticeship).
- Make sure bootcamps that use ISAs (revenue sharing agreements) have a capped maximum to avoid the risk of overpayment.
- Investigate the qualifications of the bootcamp instructors.
- Investigate the financial health of the bootcamp to avoid unexpected closures or resource cuts.
- Talk to HR managers at target companies and ask for their honest opinions on bootcamp hires.
The bootcamp industry is still nascent, and finding the right program can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Use patience, a healthy dose of skepticism and an open mind to find the option that’s right for you.