An educator, engineer, entrepreneur, and community leader, Nick Suwyn started his software development journey at age ten building computer games for neighborhood children. As a child, he developed a love for music and after high school began sharing his passion by teaching after-school music programs at elementary schools around the Phoenix valley. As he was teaching, he attended DeVry University and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Computer Information Systems. He then worked as a software engineer for two years before combining his love of technology with his aptitude for teaching and joined a coding bootcamp to lead their academic team. Two years later, Nick founded Promineo Tech with a mission to increase affordability and accessibility of technology education. Today, Promineo Tech is the leading provider of coding bootcamps to community colleges and Nick serves as the CEO, continuing to lead innovation that forwards educational access.
Coding bootcamps arrived on the academic scene over a decade ago as an alternative learning pathway to combat an ever-increasing skills gap in the information technology industry. Currently, in the United States alone, there is a projected average need for more than 442,000 new IT professionals each year through 2030, with only approximately 115,000 annual graduates from both bootcamps and bachelor’s degree programs, resulting in an almost 74% annual talent deficit.
While the adoption of coding bootcamps by both trade-school-like institutions and public universities has helped increase the talent pool and battle this growing skills gap since 2011, the most accessible institutions across the U.S., community colleges, have not participated in this movement – until very recently.
A Short-term, Alternative Model to Tech Education
Since 2011, coding bootcamps have sprouted up across the world, quickly becoming one of the most recognized training paths for students to break into software development and other IT-related careers. Many of these programs started out being offered through private post-secondary institutions with a trade-school model focused on teaching the hands-on skills and technologies necessary to build software, while omitting traditional theory that extends the length of many degree programs. The typical philosophy surrounding coding bootcamps has been to teach industry-standard tooling and methodologies in 6 to 36 weeks to enable reskilling adults to hit the ground running in a new technology career, all while increasing the affordability of education.
The word bootcamp is used to describe the intense nature of these short-term programs. While some of the typical computer science degree theory may be ignored, coding bootcamps still have a myriad of content and learning to cover. This includes everything from exploring how to set up a software development environment and writing one’s first line of code to deploying functional applications and making contributions to real world projects using the most up-to-date technologies – quite a feat for only a handful of months learning.
The average student attending a coding bootcamp also differs somewhat from the traditional degree-seeking student. While some recent high school graduates enroll in bootcamps, most attendees tend to already have at least a handful of years of experience working in an unrelated industry and may have even already attended college or a trade school. The draw to these alternative training programs is the ability to transfer existing professional skills acquired throughout their current career and combine them with newly gained technical skills to pivot into a different industry without needing to return to college for another degree, which might take years to complete.
Universities and Coding Bootcamps
While coding bootcamps started out offered mainly through private institutions, after a few years, universities saw the value of these programs and began partnering with providers to offer co-branded or white labeled coding bootcamps of their own. This new partnership model helped chip away further at the IT skills gap by increasing both the visibility and accessibility of these rapidly growing programs. Universities were able to leverage their brands, combined with the proven success of existing coding bootcamp programs, to forward the industry of alternative learning pathways and help more students access critically needed technology education.
With universities adopting the coding bootcamp paradigm, employer recognition of these programs increased, and, combined with the gravity of an exceptional talent deficit, led to an accelerated decline in traditional requirements for a bachelor’s degree to begin a career as a software developer.
However, while making coding bootcamps more recognizable to both employers and students, traditional universities have not always been viewed as the most accessible institutions by everyone. This barrier left vital education just out of reach for many of the population, but also highlighted an opportunity to be unlocked.
Adoption by Community Colleges
Recently, many institutions have struggled with traditional enrollment, and community colleges are no exception. From 2010 to 2030, community colleges are being challenged with a decline in enrollment of approximately 2.1 million credit-seeking students. This, combined with the need for more accessible coding bootcamps, became the catalyst leading community colleges to adapt, innovate, and figure out how to participate in the now decade-old effort to bring technology education to the masses.
While earlier years from 2017 to 2019 saw one-off community colleges launch their own coding bootcamps, 2020 saw the first spike in adoption with 9 additional colleges partnering with providers to join the movement. The following year saw another exponential increase with 29 new community college coding bootcamps taking the stage, and the trend looks to be continuing. Of the providers that work with community colleges to launch these bootcamp programs, Promineo Tech is notable for leading the movement and accounts for more than 41% of all partnerships. Not only has the acceptance of this model benefited community colleges through increased enrollments and tuition, but by embracing coding bootcamps these colleges have expanded the inclusivity implicit to their brands onto the bootcamp industry.
Inclusive brands aren’t the only method community colleges have employed to increase accessibility, though. The average community college coding bootcamp costs around $3,600, compared to the industry average tuition of approximately $13,500. Through innovative partnerships and optimized delivery of education, community colleges have decreased the cost of these bootcamps, made life-changing instruction more accessible, and positioned themselves to become the leading institutions offering these modern reskilling opportunities.
The Future of Technology Education
As technology evolves at an exponential rate, the IT skills gap continues to expand. Society and education are doing everything they can to keep up with the increasing needs, which has led to innovation across workforce development and training. Because of the rapidly changing landscape, bootcamps, micro-credentials, stackable credentials, and industry certifications have increased in popularity and credibility. The need for very specific, short-term, skill-based training has become more apparent as industry standards change in the blink of an eye with the goal of continual progress.
Community colleges have long been a hub for workforce education and training, and with previously degree-requiring careers like software development transitioning to a more hands-on training model, the adoption of coding bootcamps makes incredible sense. With the way the industry is trending, the future of workforce education will be driven by accessible, affordable, and alternative models, and community colleges offering these programs will be at the forefront of building that future.