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Tech bootcamps aim to educate workers in less time

Posted at 2:06 PM, Jan 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-25 17:11:02-05

Demand for tech industry jobs has outpaced qualified workers for several years.

Tech boot camps are popping up across the country claiming to train workers in a fraction of the time of a traditional four-year degree program.

Galvanize launched in 2012 in Denver, Colorado.

CEO Jim Deters said he got the idea while interviewing more than 1,000 computer programmers at his previous tech consulting agency.

"We've transitioned to a skills-based economy," Deters said. "It doesn't matter if you learn (the skills) completely on your own, working nights and weekends or you acquired it from some ivy league school. The skill-sets and competencies are the same thing regardless of how you might have acquired them."

Wednesday morning, Galvanize's flagship program - a six month intensive course for web development - began with students leading themselves in morning announcements and if anyone needs help on a certain subject.

Instructors say this part is just as important for students to get comfortable speaking in front of people, something Faculty Director Kyle Coberly says traditional four-year programs don't focus on that but it is a crucial skill for someone potentially launching their own startup.

"We are preparing people for the job market, which computer science programs don't really have as a goal," Coberly said. "I think these kinds of programs are the future of tech education."

Nick Sugar is starting his third week in the web development program. It is a complete career change for the 32-year-old who spent 15 years as a driver for UPS and Army Reservist.

"I didn't want to be a truck driver for the rest of my life," he said. "I would have considered going (to a traditional school) but with work and the Army and stuff it wasn't really feasible."

The program is all day long, so Sugar had to quit his job at UPS and use his GI Bill benefits to pay for the courses.

Instructors are clear from the beginning, the program is relatively short but it will consume your life.

Anita Khedkar has a masters degree in math and computer science, but has been a stay-at-home mom since her teenagers were born. She's taking the course to get back up to speed with a changing industry.

"I could get the basic concept but when they threw terms at me I had no idea," she said.

Instructors had Khedkar and other students write a letter to their family and friends explaining the next six months will take all of their attention.

"We're definitely packing four years into a six month program," Sugar said.

The biggest advantage, instructors say, is the programs are based off of what tech companies want from their workers.

Many have office space inside Galvanize locations to work on projects with students, along with new startups looking to make connections.

Galvanize boasts a 91 percent success rate in getting students placed in high paying tech jobs following their program, but it's not cheap. Tuition for the six month course is around $20,000.

"I think these kinds of programs are the future of tech education," Coberly said.

The company is expanding into other tech cities.

It has offices in Denver, Boulder, Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, Phoenix and New York.