It is acknowledged that there is a chronic shortage of tech skills across Europe. One of the problems appears to be that the traditional educational establishments, universities and colleges, cannot deliver the alumni with the correct skills to meet employer demands. While there are various arguments as to why this is the case, it is clear that there are alternatives to the traditional methods for people from all walks of life to get a foothold in the technology space.
One such education alternative is a new breed of courses, known as coding bootcamps. These comprise an intensive series of classes, usually delivered over the course of between several weeks to 6 months. The students on these bootcamps are provided with a foundation of software development skills necessary to get them up and running as a junior software developer. The goal, therefore, for most of these courses is to enable the attendees, upon completion, to immediately apply themselves to the work environment.
One of the many frustrations that graduates of the traditional university programmes experience is that, while they have completed a three or four year course, they are, as yet, unfit for real employment. There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the major ones is that they are being taught software development practices and tools that are out of date by people who learned their trade quite a few years ago. (This issue will continue to be a problem for universities in all of the faster-changing disciplines because their teachers, in the main, are full time, tenured lecturers who are not industry based – their knowledge becomes dated).
Over and over, we are being told by employers that the very first thing that they have to do with new hires is train them in how to code using the tools that the company uses. Coding Bootcamps tend to eliminate this problem by working closely with the employers to ensure that they teach the coding skills required by the organisation. It is therefore critical that the coding bootcamp schools work closely with both the employers and the students to set and agree expectations.
One of the key expectations that we try to ensure employers understand is that we are delivering entry-level graduates. However, they are graduates that can apply themselves and become valuable immediately. Even the most intensive coding courses can only cover so much. The graduates will be junior programmers – the skills that they acquire on the course will not equate to years of industry experience. Of course, the upside of this is that perhaps they are most open to working within a flexible environment because they are not tied to one format or another and are very keen to learn new ways to hone their skills.
Code Institute has created an Advisory Council, comprising employers, recruiters and trainers. The aim of this council is to ensure that the course content (syllabus) is designed to meet the requirements of the employers. With this foundation in place, all parties understand what they are getting out of such a course. The council also ensures that the coding courses are kept up to date with the very latest tools and technologies being employed by organisations.
As in many areas of technology, the certification agencies simply cannot keep abreast of the changes. While some bad press exists around coding schools, it would appear that the market is proving itself by ensuring that their students gain employment. Many of the code schools (especially in the USA where they have been operating for a couple of years) are claiming upwards of 95% hiring success rates. This has yet to be proven (or otherwise) in Europe, but there a number of coding bootcamps similar to Code Institute that have been operating for a while so time will tell.
At the end of the day, if employers embrace this type of education programme and students are happy to attend the programmes and continue to gain employment as a result, then we might see a further expansion of this type of courses that are at the touch point where organisations meet directly with the employers.
Code schools should be able to provide you with a rapid opportunity to break into technology jobs.