Costly coding boot camps are limiting the tech talent pool

Programming boot camps have become very popular since their inception in early 2010s. Course Report, an organization that conducts annual market research on boot camps, reports that almost 25,000 Coding Boot Camp Graduates entered the labor market in 2020, 39% more than the previous year.

However, with the growth in popularity, a price increase has come. Course Report also reports that the average coding boot camp costs more than $ 14,000. As costs rise, new opportunities have emerged for students to defer payments, such as income sharing agreements, or ISAs, in which students do not pay tuition until after they get a job.

Rising costs mean higher risk

But many payback models carry risks. For instance, a recent lawsuit filed against a coding boot camp is based on false advertising claims about job placement rates that directly affected students’ ISAs. And throughout history, there have been many predatory educational programs that have sold lies to generate more income. Such cases resulted in resolutions and regulations to protect students. However, it remains true that for-profit company technology training programs in the US face a complex balance between the desire to help students access better careers but the need to generate profits and returns for it. the investors.

The bottom line is that the tech industry needs to seek new models for teaching coding skills that reduce the risk and financial burden on students.

Workforce initiatives and training pathways must be more accessible to all Americans. While traditional college or university career paths are a great option for some, there is a large and growing group of people in the U.S. For whom earning a four-year degree is non-viable. The cost and risk of obtaining student loans is a huge barrier, and many students are unable to spend the time necessary while doing other jobs or caring for their families.

Time to create realistic opportunities

Today’s workers are interested in retrain for new opportunitiesand companies need more skilled tech workers.

But the time and money it takes to earn a degree or go through boot camp for profit is often not an option for many.

For similar reasons, the same individuals who cannot take traditional higher education pathways continue to be marginalized by boot camps.

It’s time to make opportunities more accessible and realistic for everyone. Exploring the following strategies can help the tech industry reduce the risk and financial burden of acquiring new skills:

1. Create and support accessible and accelerated skill pathways..

Coding boot camps create a large talent pool. Still, to expand that pool of tech companies and create more accessible opportunities for job seekers, the tech industry needs to support other skill pathways, such as free and accelerated digital job training courses, that open doors to people who they are often left out of other options.

Some options are not only free or affordable, but also offer opportunities to learn skills part-time.

Because this format breaks down the barriers presented by traditional educational pathways and for-profit boot camps, it is more accessible to those seeking career changes. It can produce a more diverse talent pool for technology companies.

Additionally, getting more career changers involved in technology means bringing a broad and diverse set of transferable soft skills to the industry.

2. Formalize apprenticeship programs.

Apprenticeship programs are great models for opening the door to more people. They allow beginning workers to gain the specific skills they need to fill positions in a company while on the job and earning a salary. In this way, it minimizes risks for both employees and companies.

As employees learn precisely the skills they need while on the job, they can rest assured that they are not risking time, money, and effort to learn potentially irrelevant skills or skills that could become irrelevant in the near future.

Companies benefit because they can mold apprentices for whatever skill set they need. Rather than expecting candidates’ past experiences and education to serve them well to fill open positions, companies ensure that candidates can do exactly what they need to do to fulfill their current or future job responsibilities.

3. Improve the skills of existing workers.

Even people who are already employed by a company may be interested in educational opportunities to learn new skills or hone their existing skill sets. Companies looking to fill technology positions can benefit from looking within their companies first to see if someone wants to learn new skills and move toward a more technical career.

When companies provide skills enhancement opportunities to current employees, they retain the talent they already have, provide accessible opportunities for employees to develop their careers, and contribute to a talent pool that can fill skills gaps in the future.


Following a career in technology has long been a huge financial commitment for students, whether they follow traditional college paths or pay for coding boot camps.

Meanwhile, the tech industry has struggled for years to fill its skills gap and find suitable workers. Closing the gap will require the tech industry to support more accessible and financially viable opportunities for all.

Image credit: pepi stojanovski; unpack thank you!

Jeff mazur

Executive Director of LaunchCode

Jeff Mazur is the CEO of LaunchCode, a nonprofit organization that aims to fill the gap in tech talent by matching companies with skilled people.

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