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A Parent's Guide to Coding

July 6, 2017
Last updated on
March 13, 2024

I have a daughter currently attending college in the US and a son who has graduated from a university in the US. Helping a young adult navigate the education options, degree and career choices, and all the life and financial implications of those choices, is not easy. I don’t have all the answers, but one option that is often overlooked or prematurely dismissed by parents, is coding bootcamps. For transparency, I now work for an education company that offers coding bootcamps, so I’m not unbiased. I believe in what we are doing and want to get the right information out to parents who may be overlooking an option that is worth considering.

Coding bootcamps serve a very specific purpose: as quickly as possible, achieve employability as a software developer. Why is this important? There is currently a high level of youth unemployment, yet there is also a shortage of job seekers with the tech skills employers need. Don’t take my word for it. McKinsey & Company did a comprehensive study and report, “Education to employment: Designing a system that works”, that covers the problems in great detail.

Sadly, our universities don’t prepare students very well for jobs in the tech industry. I’ve hired a lot of fresh grads during my 25+ years in IT and I can personally testify that most fresh grads are not ready for the workforce. So, students and parents take on huge debt to earn a university degree and then may find that employers are hesitant to hire them, offer only internships, or they get hired and either quit or get fired within a few months because they struggle to make the transition from school life to work life.

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Bootcamps are not for everyone but they are a good option in some cases. Consider this from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (US). The Labor Department reports expected job growth across all occupations to increase 7%, but they are forecasting a 17% increase for software developers over the next few years. This makes this one of the hottest occupations on the planet.

One of the ways this market demand for software developers is being met is through bootcamps. CourseReport reports that the number of students graduating from software development bootcamps increased 138% from 2014 to 2015 with the number of graduates increasing from just over 2,000 in 2013 to over 16,000 in 2015.

Even former US President, Obama, endorsed the trend with his TechHire Initiative, that made available $100 million USD in grants to support programs to convince individuals and businesses that a 4-year degree is not the only way to acquire the skills needed to fill an estimated 500,000 open tech jobs in the US.

The challenges in Hong Kong and across Asia are similar. We hear it over and over again. There is great interest in promoting the tech startup community in Hong Kong, but we simply don’t have the tech talent available to support the startups. They frequently resort to moving operations to Singapore or other cities in Asia or outsource development to China, India, or other remote locations.

How is that our kids are so tech savvy but they aren’t employable in tech jobs? They just need a little help. This is where coding bootcamps fill a gap. In just 16 weeks, we can take someone with potential, but little or no programming experience, and make them employable as software developers. Programming is the new literacy. Those who understand how software is designed and developed have an advantage in almost any industry or role. Even if the goal is not to become a full-time software developer, knowing how to work with software developers is an extremely valuable skill. Our students gain those skills. They can either pursue job opportunities as software developers or pursue hybrid roles where they leverage other skills and experience and layer on the technical skills to give them an advantage in a competitive job market. Our classroom environment also closely simulates a real work environment. There are no lectures or exams. Students learn by doing, getting as much as 1,000 hours of coding experience in 16 weeks. Yes, the program is intense and we also coach soft skills that these folks need to be successful in the workplace.

There are no lectures or exams. Students learn by doing, getting as much as 1,000 hours of coding experience in 16 weeks.

We are not suggesting that coding bootcamps can completely replace the need or benefit of a university degree. We are suggesting that if your child has graduated from a university and is either struggling to find a job, struggling to be successful in that job, or is just unhappy and unfulfilled in that job, they should consider a coding bootcamp to maneuver their career into the hottest job market.

Did we mention that we offer the 16-week coding bootcamp for free? Okay, it isn’t exactly “free” but we have a program that can defer the tuition payments until the student is hired. This puts pressure on us to make sure our graduates are employable and they get connected with the companies that can and will hire them. We are very selective in who we take into this program.

We are not a charity, but we have a mission to unlock the potential of the bright young minds in our community that are currently unfulfilled and unable to pursue the jobs they desire in tech fields. Our hiring companies span the spectrum from startups to well established corporates. We hope to train and employ 100,000 individuals in the next 10 years.If your son or daughter might be a good candidate for a coding bootcamp, please have them talk to us. I am personally available to speak with you if you have questions and you are welcome to come see us at CoCoon Tin Hau and learn more about Xccelerate and our team.