The Corner

Education

The Coding-School Industry Begins to Shake Out

Among the alternatives to going to “real” college is for a student to enrolling a school that teaches one of the most useful of modern skills — coding. The demand for people who can write code for the growing number of things that rely on computers has spawned a large number of schools that will get a student prepared for work in the field in as little as twelve weeks. It costs a lot less than college, and many of the graduates find good jobs rather quickly.

And yet, some of the schools have closed. Is that evidence against the usefulness of these institutions? In this Martin Center article, Shannon Watkins examines the evolving industry of coding schools.

Many of them seem to be doing a good job, but they don’t all provide the level of training needed for some of the top firms, such as Google.

Watkins interviewed the head of a tech firm regarding his hiring and writes,

Some start-up tech companies have recruited coding school graduates with success. In a Martin Center interview, Nick Jordan, CEO of a Durham-based tech company called Smashing Boxes, said, “we’ve had a lot of success with hiring people from code schools.”

Jordan emphasized that the most important characteristic in applicants is the experience, passion, and personal integrity they bring to the table. “It’s just as much about mindset and attitude as about . . . training,” says Jordan. Accordingly, Smashing Boxes has hired individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds, including computer science majors and even those who are self-taught in coding and have no official certification.

I think two things are clear: The coding schools fill a need in the market for professional training and they are undergoing the same kind of evolution we saw in the early automotive industry. Pure competition will give us the best result.

Watkins is right in her conclusion:

Even if university-trained computer professionals remain the first choice of most employers, a narrower sector of the market may find boot camps useful. Given that technology is constantly changing, coding schools could help seasoned professionals retool and update their skills. Such a niche industry, however, would hardly be large enough to change the overall landscape of higher education.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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