Friday, January 21

From waiter to programmer: the ‘military’ trainings to change professions


The format of the ‘bootcamp’, intensive courses of several weeks, increasingly contributes more manpower to the technology sector

Danny Atiencia not
Danny Atiencia went from working as a waiter to being a programmer.Angel navarreteWORLD

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Every day thousands of specialized technological jobs are left unfilled in Spain due to a lack of candidates. A few years ago, a similar situation in the United States, where half a million programmers were needed, served as an impetus for bootcamps. These intensive courses, which boast very high percentages of employability after training their students in the specialties demanded by companies, are beginning to gain a foothold in Spain.

“High school seemed like a waste of time, because it was a lot of information, but there was nothing that would help me,” he recalls Danny Atiencia. Although he admits that he likes to learn and has a penchant for technology, after leaving his studies at the age of 16 he only thought about working, so he started doing it in a bar in the Almera where he lived then. From there, he went to Madrid, where he became head of the room. “When the pandemic hit, the hospitality industry was one of the worst hit sectors,” he recalls, and at the age of 22, he thought “it was time to make a change.”

However, the young man did not want to waste several years studying, so he opted for a bootcamp from ID Digital School in programming and web development Full Stack. “Give what is necessary to learn, a solid foundation and then everything else you learn as you develop your work,” he explains. In his case, it ended on September 22 of this year and by the 24th he had already obtained a one-month internship at the company you currently work for.

Daniela Rodrguez, a 32-year-old Argentine, took the step when she came to live in Spain. She left her career – a mathematics teacher -, although not her passion for numbers, and opted for the Data Science course, also at ID Digital School. He’s not finished yet, but he’s already found work.

“I knew the concept because I have a cousin who also decided to make a radical change: he had studied for a degree in foreign trade,” explains Rodríguez. Made a bootcamp from Full Stack and currently “earns more than after having studied for five years and practicing ten in his previous profession.”

“I have a friend who has become a computer engineer and knows how to program the same as I did when he finished bootcamp“, Atiencia presumes. Obviously, the career adds another type of knowledge and involves a more extensive training, but not everyone can dedicate that time. Not even companies.

Each year they appear approximately 20,000 technology-related positions that are not covered and the number has increased enormously with the pandemic – before it there were 13,000 – due to the digitization needs that it has brought. The data provides it Iker Arce, co-founder and CEO of The Bridge, another of the schools dedicated to these courses.

The need is so great that companies end up stealing professionals from each other, because there are not enough for everyone. “If you look at the number of computer science graduates, a year the Spanish university system is 5,000 people”, contextualizes Arce. “The demand is four times what the system can produce in a year; there is a huge lack of talent.” In part, because in the case of cybersecurity or cloud-related positions, it is “critical to running the business.”

It is precisely because of one of these specific needs that the first bootcamp just 10 years ago. A message published on November 22, 2011 in Hacker News, it was looking for people who want to become a web developer and live in the San Francisco bay area. Promise to teach the programming language Ruby on Rails to anyone who could dedicate five days a week to it during the months of February and March, regardless of their previous knowledge. “There is such a demand for good Ruby developers right now that I am willing to invest my time, money and energy up front,” the author of the message assured. And for free: they would only charge the training to companies that hired their students. So it was.

“Little by little this was repeated and spread,” explains Arce. Some companies even did it internally. Finally, it took its name from the military camps in which the American military prepares its different divisions before officially becoming soldiers. “They are curricula very focused on practice and on the series of competencies that are needed to work; it is not necessary that they are studying a lot of languages ​​and methodologies for years, but simply what they need to start”, highlights the manager.

Another advantage is that the sector is changing rapidly, so “if you go too far there is much greater risk that this progress will not be useful.” The programs, therefore, sacrifice knowledge that will not be necessary if it is not going to deepen them in exchange for an employability that, at least for the moment, few can achieve.

Thus, Maple brings out 90% employability after 180 days in most of its courses, and only in 90 if they have to do with cybersecurity. In fact, in several of these schools they assure that only if their students put on LinkedIn that they are studying any of these subjects they will begin to receive offers by the time they finish it. Among the students, there are both profiles such as Danny and Daniela, who seek to change sectors, as well as other more professionals who want to add skills or, simply, computer scientists who know that it is an easy way to start with internships.

However, the bootcamps they are not for everyone. On the one hand, its price can be around 6,000 euros, which is already an initial investment. On the other hand, despite the fact that almost all of them offer part-time positions for more weeks, their very nature requires a dedication that complicates that among those who do not have the time. And besides, the title itself is not official. Despite this, Arce points out that this last disadvantage matters less and less to both students and companies. What is needed, he argues, is “a little bit of institutional support.” “We operate from the periphery: it is a part of the educational system that is not regulated, but it solves an economic and social problem.”

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