Edutech panel discuss if bootcamps should regulated

By Dennis Clemente

From its “cease and desist” years, says a panelist, the government has flipped the switch on bootcamps

NEW YORK—The proliferation of bootcamps in the city and all around the United States begs the question, should they be regulated? You will hardly hear a contrarian view in the tech meetup scene by the very nature of the meetups as marketing vehicles for like-minded startups and panelists, but last March 15, the NY Ed Tech meetup saw two panelists disagree on regulation for bootcamps.

Dan Friedman, CEO of Thinkful was for regulation, while Rebekah Rombom, VP Business Development of The Flatiron School opposed it. However, both of them, along with Marissa Shorenstein, president, AT&T-Network and Liz Eggleston, co-founder of Course Report, agreed on some third-party auditing.

Friedman cited some online universities for falling short of expectations, which clearly undergoes more scrutiny. Rombom was more flexible, given the agile and ephemeral construct of technology stacks; what’s in demand now may fall by the wayside later. Mean Stack development is becoming more popular these days, for instance—and established bootcamps in New York don’t offer it yet.

Rombom puts it this way:  “We offer a job guarantee. Within 6 months if you don’t get a job, you get your money back,” she said of the Flatiron School, adding that anyone can even make suggested changes to its syllabus on Github. It claims more openness and transparency to its data and curriculum while reportedly keeping the quality of its immersive teaching up to par.

Friedman thinks it’s crucial for government to see the data and regulate bootcamps as it will also help add consumer protection.

Eggleston offers some perspective on the success of bootcamps and how it has come a long way. From its “cease and desist” years, she has seen how government has flipped the switch. It funds and finds scholarships to deserving students now, emboldened by how established bootcamps have over 90 percent placement rates, on account of how immersive learning has proven to be effective.

As the employer of developers for AT&T, Shorenstein admits to hiring developers from development bootcamps, even funding non-profit programming bootcamps like Girls Who Code. “We’re looking for breadth of experience, more than school credentials.”

For those with only experience and no college degree, she discourages new developers from bootcamps in applying on their online portal. “We suggest going to hiring or networking events,” she said, adding how current employees are also retrained.

In 2015, a total of 16,000 students graduated from bootcamps in US and Canada In 2015. The entry level salary is $70,000, with some getting a $15,000 to $20,000 bump in salary in their second year.

Dennis Clemente

Shuttling between New York and other US cities, Dennis writes about tech meetups when he's not too busy working as a Web Developer/Producer + UX Writer and Digital Marketer.

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