By Cait Etherington December 19, 2017
The last twelve months have been an exciting time for the coding bootcamp industry. From DevCamp’s surprising closure to Flatiron’s surprising acquisition by the shared workspace company WeWork, 2017 has seen the bootcamp industry stumble, expand, and restructure on myriad levels. Here are eLearningInside News‘ top 2017 coding bootcamp stories.
The big story in the coding bootcamp sector this year was no doubt the surprising closure of several established schools. One high-profile casualty was Dev Bootcamp, which started in San Francisco back in 2012 and grew to six schools before being acquired by Kaplan. Another surprising closure was Iron Yard. Despite the closures, however, the industry continued to expand with more schools opening and many existing schools moving into new markets. As Course Report emphasized in its 2017 market survey released in July, mid year, there were still strong indications that the bootcamp market was growing (the report expected the industry to grow 1.5 x in 2017) and to graduate an estimated 22,949 graduates in 74 U.S. cities and 40 states.
As reported this fall, coding bootcamps are now going global. A recently released report by the World Bank enthusiastically supports the current and future of coding bootcamps in emerging economies around the globe. As reported in Coding Bootcamps: Building Future-Proof Skills Through Rapid-Skills Training‘s executive summary: “Coding bootcamps are not restricted to advanced economies; they have become a global phenomenon being present in emerging economies with active start-up ecosystems. Furthermore, they are expanding beyond the ICT sector to other key priority areas such as manufacturing.” However, the report also cautions that careful study is still needed to determine best practices for coding schools in this context.
In 2017, after years of unprecedented growth and a lot of bragging about job placement rates, the coding bootcamp industry started to take its first steps toward regulation. As reported in TechCrunch earlier this year, “A group of coding boot camps and white-collar training programs from around the country are banding together to create a single standard for reporting graduation and job placement data. The move comes as these ‘accelerated learning programs’ across the country push for greater validation among educational institutions — and a share of the massive state and federal dollars that come with accreditation. Called the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting…the organization will create truth in advertising standards, and common definitions, documentation and validation requirements for all participating organizations.” To date, it is still unclear how this new organization will operate and not all coding bootcamps have agreed to sign on to the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting mandate, but there is little doubt that the industry will continue to debate the regulation question in 2018.
As the gender and tech problem appeared to only get bigger throughout 2017, coding bootcamps continued to take on the challenge of doing something that colleges and universities haven’t been able to do: Get more women into tech. Women-only bootcamps, like the successful Grace Hopper Academy in New York City, continued to flourish, but gains were also made at some co-ed coding bootcamps. In October 2017, after rolling out a new scholarship fund for women, online coding bootcamp, Bloc, announced that it was now enrolling more women than men in its programs for the first time and had high hopes that this trend would continue in the future.
Despite promoting themselves as a highly accountable school (notably, they were among the first coding bootcamps to release report on job placement rates back in 2014), in 2017, the Flatiron School got slapped with a significant fine by New York State. Shortly after paying a $375,000 to the state for “improperly” marketing and advertising their job success rate and operating without a license, Flatiron was in the news again, but for a very different reason. In October, the Flatiron School was bought by WeWork. WeWork, which has been rapidly expanding in recent years as a go-to shared workspace option, reportedly purchased the Flatiron School in order to provide its members with an opportunity to expand their knowledge and skill sets. While this may be true, it seems just as likely that the purchase may be a sign that WeWork has already reached a saturation point is beginning to look for creative ways to keep expanding.