In the face of a shortage in critical tech talent and the growth of online education, many employers are being challenged to update their recruiting practices and in some cases reduce their reliance on traditional credentials like college degrees. One of the most common forms of alternative education today are coding bootcamps—short, intensive programming courses designed to help students get jobs as programmers—which proponents see as an effective way of growing and diversifying the tech talent pipeline. According to a recent survey of HR managers and technical recruiters from the job-search site Indeed, employers appear to hold bootcamps “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.
Indeed also found that the number of bootcamp graduates applying for jobs at these companies is increasing exponentially: 86 percent of respondents to the survey said the number of applications they were receiving from these candidates had increased in the past few years, and Indeed’s own data show “a doubling of year-over-year growth of job seekers with bootcamp experience” listed on their résumés over the past four years.
Nonetheless, the survey also showed that employers would still prefer a candidate with a bachelor’s degree in computer science over a bootcamp graduate, and would like to see more regulation of the bootcamp industry to ensure quality:
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. …
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.
These downside findings reflect recent reports finding that many employers and graduates were unsure of whether bootcamps were living up to their potential. While Indeed’s findings point to the strong likelihood that bootcamps will play a role in developing the tech talent the economy demands, there are also clear signs that this sector is still a ways away from meeting employers’ needs.