HIR(ED) Summit 2019 Recap

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HIR(ED) Summit 2019 Recap

Skills Fund recently organized the inaugural HIR(ED) Summit, a gathering of 120 bootcamp leaders, regulators, content creators, and education experts in order to help bootcamps produce ever better outcomes for students. The two-day event featured a diverse set of panelists discussing topics ranging from measuring the effectiveness of serving underrepresented populations to discussing the best way to report student outcomes. Here are five key takeaways from the 2019 HIR(ED) Summit.

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Diversity and inclusion are top of mind

The summit featured many thoughtful discussions – both on the stage and in the lobby – around how to make a career in tech more accessible for people of all backgrounds. One thought-provoking panelist used the term “under-estimated populations” to describe the groups of people negatively affected by the lack of diversity in the field. And while schools and companies are making strides toward creating a culture of inclusivity, everyone tended to agree that we haven’t found an all-encompassing solution just yet. Awareness of the problem is a great first step and it was encouraging to see and hear so many meaningful conversations around the issue. Some organizations are already ahead of the curve. Techtonic and Catalyte are currently providing solutions by combining skills training with apprenticeships and project-based learning for diverse student groups. Students of each program even earn wages while they work on real-world solutions.

Regulators are coming

The bootcamp industry has taken off in the past decade. That exponential growth has proven extremely beneficial for many career changers across the country. According to Course Report, bootcamp grads earn a median salary increase of 49% or $21,000. It appears as though these accelerated learning programs are here to stay for the foreseeable future which means that regulators will be looking to ensure students are spending their hard-earned dollars on trust-worthy institutions. While regulations may bring to mind visions of shuttered doors, heavy fines, and stifled innovations, panelists at the HIR(ED) Summit couldn’t have been more encouraging. Regulators want bootcamps to be successful so that they can help provide an even higher value to more students. Their best advice is to reach out and communicate as early and as often as possible. Regulators are here to help bootcamps innovate and provide greater impact. They’ll be coming either way, so bootcamps should get ahead of the game and find ways to ensure quality curricula. One popular idea: reporting student outcomes.

Student outcomes matter

Organizations like CIRR give prospective bootcamp students insight on how effective programs are when it comes to things like on-time graduation rates and salaries of graduates who started jobs in their field of study. It’s becoming more important for schools to provide transparency as the level of scrutiny for program quality is increasing. Many attendees noted that bootcamps need to align on a set of standards for reporting outcomes. When schools are rigorous about evaluating their results, everyone stands to benefit.

Schools are working to find a niche

Lots of big schools are doing excellent work in providing high-quality education and top notch results for large numbers of students across the country, both in-person and online. Other schools are taking a different approach when it comes to providing the best results for students. Momentum and Carolina Code School, based in Durham, NC and Greenville, SC respectively, are focusing on building strong relationships with their local communities. By establishing a meaningful dialogue with businesses in the area, leaders from each school spoke to their ability to be much more confident in their results for students. At the end of the day, students want to know that they’ll be prepared to enter the workforce and make an impact with the skills they learn. At schools like Momentum and Carolina Code School, focusing locally is a powerful way to set students up for success.

ISAs: Polarizing Payment Plans

Income Share Agreements (ISAs) offer students a way to defer paying for a program until they find a job. While terms vary from program to program, students will typically pay nothing (or a deposit) to the school until they find a job. Once the student finds a job after graduation, they’ll pay a certain percentage of their paycheck each month until they hit a cap determined ahead of time by the school, usually a multiplier of the full tuition. It might look something like this:

  • student enrolls in a bootcamp and pays zero dollars in tuition

  • student graduates from the program and begins the job search, still paying nothing

  • student finds a job that meets the school’s minimum salary requirement and begins paying 10% of each paycheck to the school

  • student continues making payments until she hits the cap at 1.5x the cost of tuition

The panelists for the ISA discussion presented both the merits and challenges of ISAs, and discussed how they can be implemented in a way that benefits both schools and students. When used effectively, ISAs are a way to give students peace of mind while holding the school accountable for its results. When done poorly, ISAs can have unintended side effects like causing more vulnerable populations to pay more for the same education. Either way, most people agree that it’s critically important for schools to be transparent so that students understand their financing options.

The HIR(ED) Summit provided an atmosphere for industry leaders to engage in a time of meaningful reflection at a critical time for bootcamps. In such a new space, opportunities abound for schools to innovate in the best interests of bootcamp students. As 2020 draws near, I for one am looking forward to seeing all of the ways that programs evolve. Here’s to a successful end to the decade and a bright future in the field. Looking forward to HIR(ED) 2020 already!