Coding Bootcamps: Filling the Void Left by Colleges and UniversitiesAlfredo Soeiro | EUCEN Representative, Universidade do Porto
Coding bootcamps are emerging as a new trend in training for employment. These represent specific training for acquisition of competencies necessary for certain job profiles that are in high demand from employers as a result of changing labor market conditions. Jobs requiring computer and hardware coding competencies are being created at an incredible rate and the existing educational and training systems are not prepared to respond to this increase in professionals required in the coding sector.
The requests come from numerous fields in society. The solutions from training providers abridge a range of experiences that comprise several formats and a variety of content. In fact, coding bootcamps are offered with durations of several months or days, with full- or part-time options, and with the option of attending remotely. Participants generally have a high expectation of employment due to the concentration on specific competencies required in the short term by employers. Employers require dedicated entry-level employees that are ready to work on tasks from day one and are offered rewarding salaries due to the supply-and-demand realities. These bootcamps, with clear learning outcomes and fixed schedules, are able to quickly and effectively provide participants with competencies that employers need.
In Europe, the European Commission identified the skills gap in the information and communications technology (ICT) area as a priority. The European Commission therefore created a partnership in 2013 involving several stakeholders and members of the ICT sector that is called the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs. The goal of this coalition is to solve the shortage of digital skills in Europe and to try to respond to many ICT job vacancies that have no applicants from industry and service sectors. The current evaluation of this deficit points to a shortage of about one million ICT professionals across the European Union by the year 2020. This assessment results mostly from the fact that most professions and jobs will need a certain level of digital skills. This partnership intends to join business, industry, and education providers to train young people, attract unsatisfied employees and retrain unemployed people in the areas of ICT and digital competences. It is a large effort that is being co-designed with industry. The coalition is working on influencing existing curricula in K-12 schools as well as in higher education to include digital skills training and is attempting to launch retraining initiatives for unemployed citizens.
Higher education institutions in general have not addressed this issue of the digital skills gap directly. Private and corporate providers have been more diligent and have responded to this need at certain levels. In Portugal these coding bootcamps may be considered a possible successful area for initial and professional training. One demographic that may benefit from this type of training is the several thousand primary and secondary school teachers that are currently unemployed. Due to the decrease in birth rate and to the structural education reforms there is a large number of educated teachers that have no places in the schools. In 2002 the University Portuguese Association of Continuing Education (AUPEC) proposed to the government a program to train the unemployed teachers in the area of informatics. The previous government implemented the program ten universities providing these coding bootcamps for unemployed teachers. The program is called Active Life for Social Economy and is sponsored by public funds and plans to involve about 900 hundred unemployed teachers. Other initiatives similar to coding bootcamps have also been financed by unemployment agency for other types of unemployed professionals. However it is apparently insufficient since most students in informatics in higher education have a job even before graduating.
Author Perspective: Administrator