Training and Development

A coding bootcamp vs a computer science degree

At the beginning of last year I took the train out to rural Bedfordshire to visit a beautiful old water mill which has been converted into an intensive live-in bootcamp for coders. The setting was glorious, it had plenty of industry links and the promise, for attendees, was decent, well-paid employment at the end of it all.

“I don’t think my computer degree got me anywhere,” Dan Garland Founder of We’ve Got Coders explained to me at the time. “After a three year degree I was flailing around. I would have got where I am quicker with [something like this]. And the [university] tuition fees [today] make it unworkable.”

The debate between the merits of degrees vs. hands-on vocational training is not a new one. Yet as each year education becomes more expensive, in the UK at least, and as technological change picks up ever more pace, you can see how it has gained relevance.

Indeed, at the start of August the Wall Street Journal ran a piece entitled “Coding Boot Camps Attract Tech Companies”. This focused on New York’s Flatiron School and looked at how employers are increasingly hiring graduates from non-traditional educational backgrounds.

This trend is the same everywhere. Hired – an online UK recruitment platform for tech roles – recently released research which showed that while developers are a highly educated group with 74% having an undergraduate degree or higher, compared to around 42% of the UK population, the numbers studying for a computer science degree have fallen by about 10,000 since 2002. It suggested this was because of the sheer volume of individuals who opted for bootcamps or self-study rather than formal training.

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