As Industry Booms, Dev Bootcamp Adds Seattle, Austin, Washington DC

After spending their first nine weeks working remotely and part-time, the first 18 students to enroll in Dev Bootcamp’s inaugural San Diego program for Web developers are moving downtown this week. They begin the immersive phase of their vocational training today in “full-stack” Web development, with new equipment that Dev Bootcamp has installed in their newly remodeled office in a high-rise office building at 707 Broadway.

Dev Bootcamp president Jon Stowe told me in a recent interview the nascent bootcamp industry continues to boom. The core appeal of “skills training for the new economy” still resonates with the cyber generation, he said, especially among those who can’t afford, or don’t want to go to college.

Founded in 2012, the San Francisco-based coding school was acquired by Kaplan in 2014, and graduated 2,000 students last year from its programs in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. San Diego became Dev Bootcamp’s fourth city in the fall, and Stowe said the school will launch Dev Bootcamp programs in Seattle; Austin, TX; and Washington, DC, by this summer.

Course Report, an independent resource created for students who want to learn Web development, says developer bootcamps are now in almost 100 cities throughout the country. (Course Report’s study of 2015 Coding Bootcamp Alumni Outcomes and Demographics is here, and Course Report provides a short overview of the coding programs in San Diego here.)

Dev Bootcamp president Jon Stowe

Jon Stowe

Stowe, who joined Dev Bootcamp near the end of 2013, said the bootcamp industry’s strong growth reflects the nationwide demand for Web developers, and he argued that vocational coding schools have become a source for qualified workers that is comparable to traditional college computer science programs.

That said, not everyone going through these programs is hired right away. Course report finds that 27 percent of students had jobs within 30 days of graduation. By 120 days after graduation, nearly 89 percent found work in the field they trained for.

A flood of entry-level programmers coming to the job market from these schools is also driving demand for advanced training offered by some programs.

Course Report offers some guidance here for students who are trying to decide whether to pursue a computer science degree, or enroll in a coding bootcamp.

As president of Dev Bootcamp, Stowe does a lot of industry trendspotting, and he offered a few predictions for the coming year:

—The code school business is ripe for consolidation. Stowe predicts that some of the weaker programs will close, stronger bootcamps will rise, and there will be a lot of mergers and acquisitions.

—Increased government and regulatory support. “We’re seeing greater support from the government for alternative education offerings like bootcamps and [massive open online courses], and we fully support that,” Stowe said. Students are not alone in the debate over college vs. vocational coding schools, either, he said. With Dev Bootcamp approaching its fourth anniversary next month,  Stowe said, “We’re going to try to follow up and do some research on our outcomes on not just the first group, but on the groups from the first year. How many are in management? How many are still programmers? How many have grown in their careers? How many times have they changed jobs?”

—Stronger partnerships between coding schools and corporations. “Companies are looking to hire talented developers and to refresh the hard and soft skills of their workforce,” Stowe said. He anticipates a growth in company-specific courses, such as the “soft skills” training that Dev Bootcamp provides engineers to help them thrive in the workplace.

—Greater emphasis on a more diverse array of skills. Coding has become a foundational skill, Stowe said, but employers are demanding skills in specific areas such as big data, analytics, machine learning, privacy, and cybersecurity. “With Metis [also a Kaplan-affiliated educational program] we can train data scientists in a matter of weeks, as opposed to a year-long, or years-long masters’ degree,” Stowe said.

Dev Bootcamp spokesman Chris Nishimura says the San Diego program, which was supposed to launch in November, was delayed until December 28 due to construction planning. “Based on demand for the program and the need for qualified Web developers in San Diego, we certainly plan to continue in the market,” Nishimura wrote in an e-mail. The next class is scheduled to begin the first nine-week phase of the 19-week program today (Feb. 29), with subsequent cohorts set to begin in San Diego on May 23 and August 22.

A recent open house at Dev Bootcamp San Diego

A recent open house at Dev Bootcamp San Diego

Dev Bootcamp emphasizes hands-on, project-based learning over traditional classroom lectures and homework, teaching students to write code in such Web development programs as Ruby on Rails, HTML5 & CSS, and JavaScript.

Reviewers generally give Dev Bootcamp good marks on the Course Report website (4.6 out of 5 stars), and Stowe said the 19-week program is divided conceptually into teaching students interpersonal “soft” skills, like empathy, (so they can keep the job they get), “hard” coding skills, and “meta-cognitive” skills, so they can learn new skills in the ever-changing computer industry.

“Somebody coming out of our program may be trained in Ruby or Java, but we also train them to learn new skills, how to optimize, and to learn new technologies very quickly,” Stowe said.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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