Victory Lap

Why Now is the Time We Need to Embrace Skill-to-Career Bootcamps

Two years ago, a student came up to me during graduation from our Bootcamp.  The conversation was brief but impactful and his words haven’t left me since.  He pulled me aside and told me this two-week program had been more impactful for him than his 4 years of college.  In this short period of time, we were able to not only provide him with the right skills he needed to succeed but also give him the confidence and assurance to know that sales was the right career path for him.  And within a month of getting his bootcamp “degree”, he was employed and earning over a $45,000 salary + bonus.  All of this in just two weeks! Now there are many ingredients that go into an outcome like this, and I’m not to say I or Victory Lap can take all the credit.  What I can say though is that Bootcamps do a great job removing the friction and time it takes to realize one’s potential.  And that for some people, it may be a better option post-college or in place of college altogether.

This is the role education should play in student’s lives and it’s our job as educators to continue to find more efficient (and therefore more affordable) ways to provide this kind of value for the next generation of talent heading into the labor marketplace.  There are 7 million unfilled jobs, and to solve for this we need to be surgical in the way we align education and employment going forward. 

New data came out recently that showed college enrollment sank 25% during the pandemic. That’s one in four students that said “yeah, college might not make sense for me now.” While of course the uncertainty of the year played a role in this, there’s also a larger trend coming to light right now: does college really make sense for everyone? Let’s look at the numbers: 

  • Students borrowed an estimated $102 billion for the 2019-2020 academic year
  • 43% of these graduates face underemployment and work in jobs they are overqualified for or that don’t require a college degree
  • The majority (68%) of older millennials (ages 33-40) are still paying down their student debt a decade or so later and 52% say their loans were not worth it. 

When you look at these stats alone, it’s clear why a quarter of students might question if college is the right path for them. It’s expensive, time-consuming and often doesn’t set students up for career success. While college still serves a purpose for many career paths, there are still several major careers they don’t properly prepare students for – sales being one of them. There are currently a little over a million open sales jobs listed on LinkedIn, yet only 4% of colleges and universities teach courses focused on this career path. These numbers don’t line up. 

So, for the 25% (and growing) number of students who are looking to delay college, what should be more important for them: figuring out a way to obtain a degree regardless of cost, or figuring out a career path that could support them and bring value to their life? 

For me, the answer is undoubtedly the latter. 

Here are a few reasons why now is the time for us to embrace more “non-traditional” education to employment pathways and why bootcamps are equipped to lead in this transformation. 

  1. Bootcamp admissions is focused on looking at the potential of people, not test scores. At Victory Lap, we don’t evaluate our students based on how well they did in school or who they know or what college they attended. Instead, we look at their grit, their determination to succeed, and their ability to learn. These are the leading factors for career success and therefore also the characteristics we look at when evaluating applicants. We’ve created our own behavioral and skill-based rubrics to measure talent coming in and talent coming out of the program, which greatly helps with confidence building and marketability to future employers. 
  2. Bootcamp curriculum is constantly updated and optimized to teach the right skills that align with today’s job market. For example, according to a recent study, job postings requiring knowledge of SaaS platforms (Software as a Service), such as Salesforce, Marketo, and thousands of others, have grown by nearly 500% in the last three years and command a 30% salary premium. These are the types of skills learned in bootcamp that aren’t taught in a traditional college classroom, yet can make all the difference both in terms of landing a job and increasing one’s potential earnings. 
  3. The financial model is aligned with that person getting a job and stays in the job! The bootcamp doesn’t make money unless it gets their graduates jobs that lead to sustained employment.  Most also have an alumni and community network that takes like-minded peers and increases the social capital of all members, creating lifelong additional value with the degree. 

We must seize the opportunity and be focused on providing education, opportunity, and community for all those willing to take the time to grow the skills to change the trajectory of their lives and a big part of doing this will be the embracing of bootcamps as a popular method to accelerate job placement and career success.