Skilling For The Future

Having spent years working at an edtech startup, I'm often asked about the future of coding bootcamps and the different factors that will continue to drive the need for reskilling. With this week's announcement that Dev Bootcamp will close at the end of the year, I thought I'd share some thoughts on the future of training and education.

Programming as a blue-collar job

Digital technology led to the need for skilled developers which led to the rise of the coding bootcamp. According to WIRED, the field is set to expand by 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than most other occupations, and with a national average salary of $81,000. 

While the need for developers continues to rise, accessibility to these programs remains difficult unless you have time and disposable income. Most of the schools charge $11,000 to $15,000 for a 12-week program, with most individuals required to quit their current job to attend the program full-time. While coding schools and governments have tried to help with barrier to entry, there are still strides to be made to eventually make coding a blue collar job.

 Employer-led learning cultures

Last year I attended the ASU GSV Summit where much of the conversation was on business leaders becoming aware of market changes and the importance of continued learning for their employees. But they are incredibly slow to act. It seems if it doesn't directly impact the company's bottom line, it's often difficult to show the benefits of developing a culture that promotes lifelong learning. 

Employers are starting to put greater emphasis on adaptability and an employee's ability to continuously learn on the job, and new technology is making it easier for employees to learn new skills quickly and efficiently. Global spend on corporate training in 2016 was $360B, with less than half of that going to external resources, with startups like Grovo, Coursera, and General Assembly leading the way.

Governments are getting involved too, the most relevant example being Singapore's SkillsFuture Initiative. Adults over the age of 25 can receive a small grant from the government for continued education. This is unlikely to work in many countries but I'm interested to see what the ROI is from this initiative. 

Rapid innovation

Digital innovation is driving the need for reskilling -- artificial intelligence, IoT, and VR are developing rapidly and will impact industries faster than employees are able to keep up. First came the disruption of the media and publishing industry, then came services like Uber and Airbnb who disrupted transportation and the hotel industry, among others, and next we will see the move towards automation with these new technologies.

Manufacturing, office, admin and production jobs will be impacted and the real question is what do we do with these individuals? Will they need to learn to work with these new technologies to be faster and more efficient at their job? Or will they need to acquire new skills altogether and change industries? 

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