Coding bootcamps and Social Impact

“Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll buy a funny hat. Talk to a hungry man about fish, and you’re a consultant.” — Scott Adams

Things we know to be true: “Software is eating the world” and technology is changing and enhancing every profession, whether you’re a doctor or a Barista… We also suspect that AI and automation are likely to make millions of jobs redundant, and that diversity yields better results in innovation. According to www.code.org, there are 500,000 current openings for computing jobs in the US. So how can the industry both train new entry level programmers and help increase the diversity of talent.

MOOCs (massive open online courses) like Coursera, Udemy or EdX and online coding learning tools like CodeCademy or many others have done a lot to democratise access to technology education. However, when it comes to education and professional training, we’ve yet to completely replace the need for a classroom, and hands-on training.

New coding bootcamps are now emerging with a double mission – to train the coders of the future, and to create social impact by getting low income youth and minorities into the world of tech by providing hands-on training, and later on help in finding a job. There are many

Lambda School (US) – trains people online to be software engineers at no up-front cost. The program last 9 months, and instead of paying tuition, students can agree to pay a percentage of their income after they’re employed, and only if they’re making more than $50k per year, in which case they would pay 17% of their income for the first two years up to $30K or $20K upfront. Live video classes, Slack channels with instructors and TAs and help with job placement upon graduation. Started in 2017 as part of Y combinator (YC S17), Lambda School raised $48M to date and its backers include GV, Bedrock Capital, Vy Capital, GGV Capital, Y Combinator and Sound Ventures. You can find the full curriculum on Github.

WeCode.org.il (Israel) – offers a hands-on coding bootcamp for young Israelis and members of under represented communities in high tech who are not able to afford higher education. The 8 month long programme is free (with the exception of a low sign up fee of 1,000 NIS) and is taught by leading faculty from IDC (Israel’s first private University) and is supported by a number of corporates including Google, Microsoft and Experis. The program was started by Yoav Shoham, a Stanford University Emeritus Professor of and serial entrepreneur who founded Trading Dynamics ($400M acquisition by Ariba) as well as Katango and Timeful (both were acquired by Google for undisclosed sums) together with Prof. Shimon Shoken of IDC and Noga Goshen a social impact entrepreneur.

SheCodes (Israel) – a community of women established with the goal of reaching 50% women software developers in the Israeli high-tech scene in the next decade. It was founded by Ruth Polachek in 2013 and now has over 20,000 members. The community offers coding classes in a series of meetups in over 30 branches. Participants may choose to be tested, for a nominal fee, on their knowledge and project and receive a certificate of completion.

It will take time to bring diversity to the tech sector, and bootcamps are not full substitutes to higher education, but the number and quality of initiatives and their apparent success means that these bootcamps are here to stay. Startup and large companies looking for entry-level talent should consider these sources of employment.

Eze Vidra

Eze is managing partner of Remagine Ventures, a seed fund investing in ambitious founders at the intersection of tech, media, data and commerce. We are backed by some of the world's leading media companies. I'm a former general partner at google ventures, head of Google for Entrepreneurs in Europe and founding head of Campus London, Google's first physical hub for startups. I'm also the founder of Techbikers, a non-profit bringing together the startup ecosystem on cycling challenges in support of Room to Read. Since inception in 2012 we've built 8 schools and 31 libraries in the developing world.