Today, technological innovation impacts every industry, creating massive demand for employees with tech skills. But good candidates are notoriously hard to find, and universities just aren’t producing enough STEM grads.
Enter coding bootcamps: an alternative education model that offers a new way to satisfy the tech talent shortage. But are coding bootcamps worth it — and does the rapid rise of these fast-track, high-impact courses indicate that employers now view them as a serious alternative to a traditional four-year computer science degree? And just how prepared are bootcamp graduates to compete for those highly paid tech jobs after only two or three months of training?
To find out the answers, Indeed conducted a survey of over 1000 HR managers and technical recruiters at U.S. companies of all sizes. Here’s what they told us.
Are coding bootcamps worth it? Employers think bootcamp grads are “just as prepared”
Just what do employers think about bootcamp graduates? It turns out that they hold them in pretty high esteem.
An impressive 72% of respondents consider bootcamp grads to be just as prepared and just as likely to perform at a high level than computer science grads. Some go further: 12% think they are more prepared and more likely to do better. By contrast, only 17% have doubts.
Little wonder, then, that 80% of respondents have actually gone ahead and hired a coding bootcamp graduate for a tech role within their company. Meanwhile, satisfaction levels are high: The overwhelming majority (99.8%) say they would do so again.
With attitudes as favorable as this, it seems undeniable that bootcamps are an idea whose time has come. So to answer the question: "Are coding bootcamps worth it?" For job seekers with the skills and interest, coding bootcamps are “worth it.” But is the message getting through to candidates?
Applications from bootcamp grads are on the up
In fact, awareness of the opportunities provided by these courses is clearly spreading: 86% of respondents say that applications from bootcamp grads have gone up over the last few years. That’s not all: Since 2010, Indeed has seen a doubling of year-over-year growth of job seekers with bootcamp experience in our resume database.
But bootcamps can do more than just help narrow the supply-demand gap. A recent Indeed survey of diversity in tech found that 77% of respondents considered it “very or quite important” to have a diverse company. Here bootcamps can also play a role: According to respondents, 51% of surveyed companies said that hiring bootcamp grads is a good way to help job seekers from underrepresented groups find work in the technology sector.
Some bootcamps, such as Ada Developers Academy, are designed specifically to address tech’s lack of diversity. Ada’s tuition-free model offers 6 months of full-time classroom training, followed by five months in a paid industry internship at a top employer.
Meanwhile, half of respondents (50%) said they were a good way to retrain workers who either don’t have college degrees or those who have lost jobs and could benefit from re-training.
Yes, employers like bootcamps — but 98% want more oversight
In 2016 there were 91 recognized, full-time bootcamps with an estimated 18,000 graduates, according to the coding bootcamp directory Course Report. However, although they clearly fill a pressing need for employers, the fact remains that bootcamps are not currently regulated or accredited. Meanwhile, despite employer enthusiasm for the model, 98% of respondents want to see regulation.
It is easy to understand why. Not all bootcamps are created equal, and many factors contribute to the quality of a program and its ability to both provide employers with qualified candidates and gain graduates entry into jobs.
For instance, some bootcamps are strictly online, which can limit teacher-student interactions. There are bootcamps that only teach certain languages or front-end versus back-end development, while others teach both front- and back-end, and still others that specialize in fields as complicated as data science. Some have promises of 100% job placement post-graduation, while others even throw in salary guarantees for projected job placements.
Awareness of the lack of a common set of standards has led some bootcamps to attempt self-regulation. In March, TechCrunch reported that a group of coding bootcamps had joined together to form the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting, with the intention of improving transparency in salary and graduation data. But will it take off? Only time will tell.
Bootcamps are on the rise, but computer science degrees are still prized by employers
This lack of a common set of standards may help explain why some employers, all things being equal, would still prefer to hire tech workers with a more traditional education. In fact, we found that despite respondents’ enthusiasm for bootcamp grads, 41% of respondents would rather hire a candidate with a computer science degree.
Here it may be a matter of what they want employees to do. Speaking to Mashable, Don Burks, head instructor of Vancouver-based bootcamp Lighthouse Labs drew a distinction between the pragmatic nature of crash courses in coding and the deeper learning provided by computer science majors. According to Burks, the next version of “Windows or OSX or the next Android phone” will most likely be created by a computer science grad. “But for someone who wants to build websites, SaaS products or work on startups, what they need at that point is a practical understanding.”
Meanwhile, Yuri Niyazov, a Ruby on Rails expert adds “[W]hen time comes to fix the database, or the browser, or any other number of tools involved in the process, the theoretical underpinnings of computer science became quite important."
However, for as long as the tech talent shortage persists, employers who tackle the problem with a range of solutions — whether through bootcamps or new hiring and recruiting models — will likely have the best chance of getting the talent they need.
Indeed conducted a national U.S. survey with Censuswide of 1000 employers involved in HR, including tech hiring managers and in-house recruiters. Responses were gathered in March 2017.