Coding Boot Camps produce coders, not software engineers

“Google, which has hired workers from Flatiron and other academies, recently studied the efficacy of coding camps. The company found that while the camps have shown promise, most of their graduates weren’t prepared for software engineering without additional training or prior experience,  Maggie Johnson, Google’s director of education and university relations, said in an email.”

Source: Coding Boot Camps Attract Tech Companies – WSJ

Coding “boot camps” are presently in vogue, offering (typically) an intensive six month training program leading to a job as a computer programmer.

Historically, only about 1 in 4 professional software developers had a relevant degree (computer science, for example). Programming has long been a field where basic programming skills can be self learned and self practiced.

Much software development is fairly narrow – if you know HTML5, PHP or Javascript and SQL, you can develop web applications, even without a good understanding of algorithm selection or design. Many coding boot camps substitute for community college programs, but do so in a more intensive, shorter time period.

Simultaneously, software development becomes easier through better languages and tools. Visit my web site devoted to MIT App Inventor programming for Android to learn more, as one example!

To some extent, are coding boot camps the A+, Network+ certifications of a dozen years ago? Those were in vogue for several years to train IT staff but soon, the world passed that by and moved on. I am concerned that if it takes only six months of training to obtain a “high paying software job”, that this market will not stay that way for long! Basic economics 101! Relatively low barriers to entry will eventually flood the market – unless, as many suggest, the software field is only for the young and those with short careers (jobs really, not a career). In which case the field has a big appetite to consume a lot of people, use them for a few years, and then replace with a new crop of boot camp graduates.

Regardless, software development will change significantly – to where a great many people have basic programming skills. There will be another group of higher skilled workers that take on a role more like engineers, focusing on architecture, design and management. There will also be specialized fields such as embedded controller design and software development, which require hardware knowledge. All though that too can be made simpler – take a look at Arduino!

The only thing that might be clear about the future is that we may soon see a lot of change in how software is created and who does the creative work.

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