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Coding-School Growth Ebbing, Not Ending

What does the future of tech boot camps hold?


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Despite some recent high-profile closures, coding boot camps continue to thrive in Colorado.

According to Course Report’s 2017 Coding Bootcamp Market Size Study, Colorado is among the top 10 states for number of coding boot camps. Course Report co-founder Liz Eggleston says five boot camps in Colorado offer full-time, in-person courses in web/mobile development: General Assembly, Galvanize, Turing, Skill Distillery and CodeCraft School. Another school, RefactorU, has closed.

“Of the five schools operating in 2017, we estimate approximately 1,004 graduates,” she says.

Last August, the New York Times reported that San Francisco-based Dev Boot camp and Greenville, S.C.-based The Iron Yard would cease operations. Meanwhile Denver-based Galvanize announced it was closing its Fort Collins office and laying off 11 percent of its workforce.

Undeterred, the University of Denver plans to launch a coding boot camp in January.

“Although demand for our University of Denver coding boot camp continues to exceed expectations, there is evidence the Colorado market has reached saturation, and may be slightly contracting,” says Michael McGuire, dean of DU’s University College.

McGuire notes that venture capital fueled the industry’s rapid growth, but access to new capital has become difficult for some coding boot camp companies lately.

The solution is self-funding, says Zach Daudert, co-founder of CodeCraft School of Technology in Boulder. “We have intentionally chosen to grow organically,” he says. “While having more financial resources would be empowering in many ways, at this time we feel that it is important to stay completely focused on the best outcomes for our students and hiring partners without the additional pressures of investors.” 

There is more to tech than coding, Daudert says, so the school also teaches user experience (UX) design, which appeals to graphic designers.

The boot camps are also responding to another challenge: affordability. “Right now there are no federal student loans available for coding schools,” says Bruce Batky, co-founder of Skill Distillery. “Schools are doing a better job of being transparent about their job placement statistics and are changing their curriculums to align more with what employers are hiring for.”

Coding schools fill a larger need, too. “Boot camps are adding tremendous value to the workforce and the economy,” Batky says. “With Colorado becoming more of a tech center and with more companies moving here, they are going to need more programmers.”

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Nora Caley

Nora Caley is a freelance writer specializing in business and food topics.

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