Web development programs, like General Assembly’s, are generating a lot of talk. Just last month, The New York Times heralded computer programming bootcamps as 21st Century trade schools, offering a path to professional success at a time when good jobs are hard to find. Bootcamps and accelerated education programs are part of a trend that is set to strengthen America’s competitiveness, encourage new ideas and innovation, and impact the economy over the long term.
A Degree Is No Longer Enough
It’s no surprise that immersive adult education programs have garnered increased interest among career-minded individuals and opportunity-seeking investors alike. If the goal of education is getting a job, college is not as effective as it once was. While the cost of an undergraduate education averages somewhere between an average $15,000 and $45,000 a year, employers are saying that college is no longer preparing people for today’s jobs. Research from Gallup has found that while 96 percent of chief academic officers of colleges and universities believe their schools are readying graduates for real-world jobs, only 11 percent of business leaders say that college graduates are well prepared for success at work.
To be sure, grad school helps, but it comes with an even heftier price tag, averaging around $60,000 per year for business school or law school. And these days there is no guarantee that an investment in a Master’s degree will pay off.
The Tech Talent Rush
On the other hand, the computer programming and information technology fields are full of in-demand jobs offering great starting salaries. The good news: the White House predicts 1.4 million new technology jobs for Americans by 2020. The not so good news is its other prediction that we may not be able to meet the demand for these jobs. Why? Because the jobs require skills that most students are not taught.
As demand changes rapidly with new technologies, universities and colleges have a difficult time keeping up. Companies like GA have stepped in to help meet this demand. The immersive learning programs at GA are taught by industry experts who work in the field, understand the latest advances, and can graduate junior developers (and now product managers and user experience designers) in 10 to 12 weeks.
While some critics have questioned the bold claims made by boot camps of lucrative starting salaries, research shows that the courses are indeed paying off. Course Report, a company that offers reviews and advice to would-be code boot camp students, recently surveyed more than 450 graduates of various programming schools around the country. It found that the majority of graduates are finding full-time work with average salaries of about $76,000 per year. Those who were employed already report that the skills learned at boot camp helped to increase their salaries by 44%.
Perhaps even more importantly, the skills learned in these programs can spur a new way of thinking, a road to new innovations that could have a dramatic impact on the American economy.
Obama’s Promise to “Upskill”
The government is also taking notice, and taking advantage of the trend in immersive adult learning programs. The Obama Administration has even committed to support coding boot camps. According to a recent White House release: “Recognizing the opportunity these accelerated learning programs present to quickly upskill workers, the Vice President has called on local leaders, federal agencies, non-profits, and industry to support more of these non-traditional training models.“
In June, the president signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the first bipartisan job-training reform legislation to be passed in decades. The WIOA is designed to strengthen America’s competitiveness in the global job market, by helping to coordinate and subsidize job-training programs on a local level. Vice President Biden already has a task force to support the WIOA, which goes into effect in July 2015. His recent report, Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity, states: “Going forward, our Administration will work with leaders in these industries to promote partnerships between education and workforce institutions in order to create training programs that help Americans succeed in these growing fields.” While there are no specifics yet, coding boot camps and related adult learning programs are perfectly positioned to fill the educational role.
The White House is already helping to subsidize boot camps and other adult learning programs. Up to $10 million has been allocated through the VA Center to support coding boot camps, and the government has reached out to the organizations operating these programs to help increase understanding of how students can qualify for funding under the GI Bill.
Employers Willing to Pay for Specific Skills
Companies in search of a certain skill set may also be willing to help pitch in for tuition. Some adult learning programs will work with employers directly, and accept a percentage of a graduate’s first year salary in lieu of tuition. Individuals who have a tuition reimbursement program at work may also be able to attend a coding boot camp on the company’s dime if the training is job-related, and in some cases even when it is not.
Employers are not alone in the notion that college is not preparing people for real-world jobs. Many employees express the same frustration. Nearly half of the respondents in Glassdoor’s Q2 2014 Employment Confidence survey, say their degrees are not relevant to their job, and 72% said training programs for specific skills are more valuable than pursuing a degree.
Creating a New Digital Landscape
Another exciting part of this emerging trend in education is the potential to create new innovation hotspots all over the map. General Assembly and other programs offer distance learning, allowing individuals to take programming courses online. That means that people living in rural communities and small towns can have the same access to programming fundamentals as those in big cities. If startups can find talent in regions they might have overlooked before, it could help revitalize economically depressed sections of the country.
Want to be a part of this growing educational trend or just make a career change? Find out more about our immersive courses in Web Development, User Experience Design, Project Management, and Business Techniques and Tactics at GA.