Nearshore Americas

Could a Massive Roll-out of Coding Bootcamps Solve Labor Shortages?

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is urging Latin American countries to embark on a massive skill training program, arguing that ‘coding bootcamps’ are the most promising way to bring immediate relief to IT labor shortages throughout the region.

Bootcamps are not only less expensive than traditional institutes of higher education, they also offer a pathway into technology for individuals who lack an engineering or mathematics background, argues the bank in a new study titled “Disrupting Talent: The Emergence of Coding Bootcamps and the Future of Digital Skills.”

The success of bootcamps is widely documented in the United States. The report points to the results of a past survey that found more than 70% of American companies are satisfied with the performance of bootcamp graduates they had hired. Moreover, 99% of respondents in the survey, conducted by GE, stated that they would definitely hire more bootcamp graduates in the future.

The shortage of human capital with digital skills is hampering the digital transformation and innovation activities across the region. The shortage is especially severe in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Panama, the bank said citing a 2015 ManpowerGroup survey. The study also indicated that three of the 10 most difficult positions to fill in today’s global professional work environment relate to IT and coding. Also, the expansion of the Nearshore IT industry results in a double-edged sword: On one hand, positions in global IT promise a bright future for talented IT professionals, yet at the same time more locally-focused firms must grapple with a tight job market and relatively fewer candidates due to recruitment by Nearshore-oriented operators.

Bootcamps are few and far between in Latin America. Only two of the first 50 bootcamps included in the Switch Up Ranking are in the region, with classroom courses in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

Designed for the Intensive Experience

Coding bootcamps generally last for three to six months, providing the practical foundations of computer programming and related digital skills in a hands-on learning environment. Some analysts describe them as “skill accelerators”, as they prepare students for entry-level tech positions.

Some IT companies conduct short and intensive bootcamp-style programs to help their employees gain specialization in a particular computer programming language. “Nevertheless, the coding bootcamps that are currently gaining international attention are a new phenomenon because they tend to target people who are outside the industry and have very little experience in coding,” the study noted.

From 2013 to 2018, the number of graduates from in-person bootcamps in the United States and Canada has grown by 748%, according to a 2018 study by Course Report, an online resource for the bootcamp community. This kind of skill training is also offered online, yet many students in Latin America are not aware of such options.

Bootcamps in Latin America

Among those providing bootcamp services in Latin America include Le Wagon, Ironhack, World Tech Makers, Plataforma 5, Laboratoria, Bogotá Dev, NivelPro, Hola Code, Desafio LATAM, and Udacity.

Le Wagon and Ironhack have found a place on SwitchUp’s 2019 list of the world’s top 50 coding bootcamps. (SwitchUp is an online platform that began in 2014 to assist prospective students to evaluate and differentiate between the various available training programs.) Some of the coding bootcamps in the region are now listed as having closed, such as Hackership and GoCode in Costa Rica; in Guatemala; and CodeaCamp in Mexico. The IDB says it is hard to determine the reason for their closure.

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Students from a wide variety of educational backgrounds take part in bootcamps. In other words, students, who have neither a degree nor computer science experience, use bootcamps to launch careers in the tech industry.

To gain advanced digital skills, industry insiders say, participants need to possess a degree from an accredited university. An estimate by Linkedin and SwitchUp suggests that there were 300 coding bootcamps operating worldwide in 2018.

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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