If you’re a recruiter or hiring manager on the hunt for tech talent, and you haven’t considered candidates who have learned their skills in a coding bootcamp, maybe you should do so: Bootcamp graduates feel more prepared for the rigors of the tech industry than college graduates, according to new survey data from DigitalOcean.
Specifically, some 61 percent of bootcamp grads felt ready for a software engineering position, versus 36 percent of those who graduated from a four-year college. Nonetheless, added the report accompanying the data, “Bootcamps face an uphill battle with how they’re perceived among employers: almost half of bootcamp graduates say that form of education sometimes has been a disadvantage for them during interviews.” (For this study, DigitalOcean surveyed some 5,000 tech pros from around the world, 55 percent of whom self-identified as developers.)
The survey data backs up that assertion about employers: Some 14 percent of hiring managers told DigitalOcean that they favor hiring traditional college graduates, and 48 percent said they hadn’t hired any bootcamp graduates over the past few years. Younger hiring managers seem to prefer bootcamp graduates, while older ones are either neutral or wary; a full 10 percent of hiring managers aged 55-64 “said they had an extremely negative viewpoint on [bootcamps].”
Of those tech pros who attended a bootcamp in place of a four-year college program, some 28 percent said that they did so because a bootcamp provided better skills and experience, and 27 percent said they did it as a faster means of entry into the workforce. Another 21 percent said that they felt it was too late in their career to go back to college.
Tech pros know that bootcamps are an expensive investment, in terms of both time and money. They are also unregulated, which makes many people nervous about signing up for one. Earlier this year, data from the Stack Overflow Developer Survey suggested that nearly half of those participating in a bootcamp already had a job as a developer; they were using their program to boost their skills and transition to the next stage of their career.
According to Stack Overflow’s data, 16.3 percent of bootcamp grads say they landed a job “immediately” after graduating, while another 7.5 percent were only on the market for a month or less. A full ten percent were gainfully employed within three months. Tech industry unemployment remains low at the moment, especially for “hot” sectors such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.
At a time when the tech industry’s unemployment rate is remarkably low, focusing on candidates with a bootcamp education could prove an excellent way for recruiters and hiring managers to fill their open slots. Plus, bootcamps have given these candidates a lot of practical skills; and the fact that they signed up for a bootcamp in the first place suggests they have perseverance and grit—excellent qualities in any new hire.