As we wrap up a very tumultuous year, we're taking a moment to round up all of the most impactful coding bootcamp news we saw in 2020. Follow along as we call out the top trends of 2020 and break down this year’s biggest acquisitions and fundraises in the bootcamp space. Plus, we’re sharing our predictions for 2021, how a new Biden/Harris administration may impact bootcamps, and what we’re hoping to see in the bootcamp world this coming year!
2020: Course Report in Numbers
- We added 138 schools to our directory — that’s 50 more schools than 2019!
- You (our readers) applied for over 600 scholarships on Course Report and we gave away over $90,000 in exclusive Course Report Scholarships!
- We matched over 26,000 readers with coding bootcamps using our matching tool
- We published ~150 new articles on our blog, 15 podcasts (including this one), and 26 YouTube videos!
- We published our two annual reports, finding that the majority of graduates of coding bootcamps are finding full-time employment, and 79% of graduates surveyed say they've been employed in a job requiring the technical skills learned at bootcamp, with an average salary increase of 56% or $25,000. The average starting salary of a bootcamp grad is $69,079.
2020 in Coding Bootcamps – The TL;DR:
- When the COVID lockdowns went into effect, bootcamps swiftly moved to online learning, proving that the flexibility was key in 2020.
- Amidst the fight for racial justice in tech, bootcamps remained committed to diversity in 2020, and backed that up with scholarships and mentorship programs.
Workforce development partnerships became integral to helping reskill those unemployed due to COVID-19.
- Bootcamps secured ~$160,000,000 in funding throughout 2020 – the largest fundraises were Lambda School's $74M Series C and Springboard's $31M Series B. Bootcamp-adjacent companies like Coursera and Udacity also raised an additional $385M in 2020. On top of those major fundraises, we saw several major acquisitions in 2020 – for example, Stride/K-12 purchased Galvanize for $165M and Tech Elevator for $24M, and WeWork sold Flatiron School to Carrick Partners for an undisclosed amount.
Did our predictions from last year ring true?
Prediction 1: We would start to see more veterans taking advantage of VET TEC and the GI Bill ✅
Prediction 2: ISAs would continue to boom and would be backed by traditional banks or bought up in marketplaces ✅
Prediction 3: University partnerships would surge in 2020 ✅
January: 2 Major Coding Bootcamp Acquisitions
- 2020 kicked off with some big acquisitions! K12 acquired Galvanize for $165M. (Later in the year, K12 would change their name to Strive and acquire Tech Elevator.) Wiley (which owns Software Guild) purchased London-based Mthree for $129M.
Galvanize launched a partnership with the U.S. Air Force to train those on active-duty and Launch Academy officially partnered with Apprenti.
Lambda School pulled out of CIRR and said they would publish their own outcomes reports. Outcomes would continue to be important to regulators and the general success of bootcamps in 2020. For a behind-the-scenes look at how one state decided to regulate bootcamps in 2020, you can still listen to the Texas Public Radio piece from January about how the Texas Workforce Commission regulates Texas coding bootcamps.
February: Scrutiny Around Income Share Agreements
The Verge dove into the potential high cost of ISAs. Business Insider and New York Magazine both highlighted the new skepticism around Lambda School’s job placement figures. The CEO of Lighthouse Labs, Josh Borts came to Lambda School’s defense while still echoing the importance that the education industry innovate in a transparent way.
- California's BPPE issued an emergency ruling about Holberton School and the school immediately appealed.
Flatiron School announced two important partnerships – a $1.3M partnership with The Department of Small Business Services and the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline to train NYC residents for software engineering careers and the NexTech 100 scholarship, which grants $1.2M to students from high-need or underrepresented backgrounds.
Quartz reported that Etsy doubled its number of Black and Latinx employees by partnering with bootcamps, like Flatiron School and VetsWhoCode.
- The American Workforce Policy Advisory Board launched a national ad campaign specifically promoting education alternatives like bootcamps.
- A HackerRank report found that 32% of hiring managers had hired a bootcamper and 72% of those managers believed bootcamp grads were equal if not better equipped for today’s workforce than traditional CS grads.
Wild Code School in Europe was officially accredited by the National Qualifications Authority with the approval of the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Education.
March: Bootcamps React to COVID-19 Lockdowns
EdSurge was curious about how coronavirus would impact the future of the tech industry and education, and they correctly predicted the rise of MOOCs like Udacity this year.
The New York Times pointed out that tech would probably be more resilient than other jobs in this sudden economic downturn (which proved true).
Le Wagon closed a funding round of $19M, and Microverse raised $3.2M.
Holberton School appealed the BPPE’s emergency decision to close its California campus. They were allowed to continue enrolling students, with the caveat that they remove the "Career Track" module.
April: CARES Act and PPP Loans offer COVID-10 Relief
- The US federal government issued the CARES Act, which injected the economy with new grant money for reskilling and upskilling programs, as well as the Payment Protection Program (or PPP), a loan program designed to incentivize small businesses to keep their workers on payroll.
- Some coding bootcamps used PPP, including Kenzie Academy and bootcamp adjacent companies like Black Girls Code, Girls Who Code, and Khan Academy.
- A few bootcamps, like Lighthouse Labs, Lambda School, and Coding Dojo issued layoffs. Vancouver-based Red Academy closed its doors all together – one of the only schools we saw close due to COVID.
- We also saw the first shifts to a workforce development mindset with bootcamps considering their role in getting Americans back to work and retraining folks who were out of work due to COVID.
- Many bootcamps began to launch COVID-19 relief scholarship programs. For example, Codesmith offered $1000 grants for their students to set up their homes for remote learning; Lighthouse Labs announced their COVID-19 Scholarship Fund of $500,000 for people whose jobs, or studies have been impacted by the recent COVID-19 crisis. And V School alloted $1M in scholarship funds to those who have been affected by the recent health crisis with its Community Relief Scholarship Fund. And that was just a few!
May: Coding Bootcamps Aced Online Learning
- Even with all of the sudden lockdown restrictions, much of the bootcamp world was already poised to make a quick shift into fully online classrooms, so we weren’t surprised to see that transition happen so smoothly by May.
Flatiron School (which was still a part of WeWork in May) announced a small round of layoffs.
Wyncode received PPP funding in 2020. Wyncode co-founder Juha Mikkola shared the frustration some bootcamps like his were facing in securing PPP loans.
June: A Call for Diversity in Tech
- June exploded with protests for racial justice, which sparked many bootcamps to issue inclusivity statements and launch new scholarships aimed at diversifying the tech pipeline. For example, Codesmith announced a full-tuition scholarship for 10 Black bootcamp students. Tech Elevator launched their $1M Represent Tech scholarship program to support underrepresented groups in tech.
- When we collected data for Course Report’s annual Alumni Outcomes and Demographics Survey at the end of the year, we found that Black and African American students are still underrepresented in bootcamps at just 5% of 2020 graduates.
- In honor of Pride month, we added a few new scholarships to our LGBTQ+ bootcamp scholarship roundup, such as the Lesbians Who Tech Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship, which provides up to half of coding bootcamp tuition at one of their 18 partner bootcamps, such as Codesmith, Springboard, CareerFoundry, and Fullstack Academy.
- 2U announced their $3M Scholarship Fund for historically underrepresented candidates experiencing job loss or financial hardship.
July: Flatiron School Cuts Ties with WeWork
Flatiron School officially cut ties with WeWork. Three years ago, WeWork bought Flatiron School and expanded from NYC to 8 campuses. But as WeWork started to divest from many of its assets, they sold Flatiron School to Carrick Capital partners.
The New York Times argued that the pandemic only accelerated demand for a more tech-skilled workforce, and that public investment should be made to upskill workers.
- The GI Bill was expanded to include online bootcamps, a policy we’re hoping sticks around post-COVID-19!
August: College Students Choose Gap Years – Bootcamp Enrollment Soars
- A SimpsonScarborough study found that 40% of incoming college freshmen were considering taking a gap year.
- By August, coding bootcamps saw even more applicants since the pandemic began in March. Flatiron School reported seeing more applicants with previous coding experience, and General Assembly saw 30% year-on-year growth in its immersive courses in the second quarter of 2020. The online coding course edX saw 5 million new users to its platforms, which is more users than it added in the previous year!
- We started conducting our annual Market Sizing report in August and found continued growth in 2020, but we did see a complete flip in in-person vs online. When we look at the number of graduates, delivery method has changed from 80% in-person / 20% online in 2019 to 40% in-person / 60% online in 2020.
Lambda School raised $74M in equity with the largest investment coming from Gigafund, the VS that invested in SpaceX. On a side note, Lambda School was also approved by California’s BPPE in August.
Springboard received a $31M investment led by Telstra Ventures.
September: 2 Regulatory Rulings in California
- California’s BPPE ruled that Lambda School could offer an Income Share Agreement, but they would now need to be called Retail Installment Contracts.
- California lawmakers passed a bill that makes it easier for the state to oversee non-profit colleges that previously operated as for-profits.
- A September report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that undergrad enrollment in the U.S. was down 2.5% from last fall.
- Despite the pandemic, Chegg reported doing very well in 2020, which can be credited to their 2019 acquisition of Thinkful.
October: Reskilling Through Workforce Development
The Washington Post did a deep dive into the risks and rewards of making a Covid Career Makeover, and highlighted some excellent reskilling initiatives through bootcamps like Tech Elevator, Tech Talent South, and Wyncode, including Wyncode’s partnership with CareerSource Florida which covers tuition at the bootcamp.
- Despite the economic downturn, the Education & Workforce Innovation Investment Trends Report showed that investments in online workforce development programs were booming in Q3 2020.
- At Course Report, we rounded up all of the workforce development opportunities in each U.S. state to give readers some help in their upskilling or reskilling journey.
- A think piece in EdSurge warned that a K-shaped economic recovery could deeply affect education and those who have access to it. But as EdSurge points out, this K-shape recovery isn’t a forgone conclusion. It’s a product of policy and investment decisions, so investing in these vetted workforce development programs is a direct way to avoid that disparate recovery.
November: The New Biden/Harris Administration
- After Joe Biden was officially announced as the president-elect, EdSurge examined what Trump’s legacy on education would be (since he focused on job skills rather than higher ed credentials), and also what coding bootcamps could expect under the incoming Biden administration.
- President-Elect Biden announced his pick for Education Secretary – Miguel Cordona – a big proponent for public education. With the focus on reopening schools, we aren’t hearing a ton of talk about bootcamps yet. But the Biden administration has expressed their support for apprenticeship programs, vocational training, and workforce development, which fares well for bootcamps.
- The San Diego Workforce Partnership which runs the Workforce ISA fund with UC San Diego gave some insight into how ISAs could be impacted by today’s upended labor market.
Tech Elevator was acquired by Stride (formerly K12) for $23.5M. Stride also owns Galvanize and Hack Reactor.
December: Rounding Out an Unpredictable Year
Coding Dojo was named as a strategic partner by the Chilean government for its national workforce development initiative and chosen by Microsoft as a new Microsoft Azure training partner.
- Tony Wan dug into ISAs for EdSurge and the rise of ISAs in colleges and Nucamp announced a new financial model called Fair Student Agreements with Climb Credit.
Promineo Tech also partnered with Climb Credit in order to offer financing options for students already attending coding bootcamp programs through one of Promineo Tech’s community college partners.
- We loved reading about the Philly Tech Sistas, a completely volunteer-based program that aims to diversify the tech scene in Philadelphia and beyond.
The New York Times shared new research that up to 30 million American workers without four-year college degrees have the skills to move into new jobs that pay on average 70% more than their current ones.
Delaware Business Now reports that Tech Impact’s Tech Hire Delaware program launched the Delaware IT Technology Support Apprenticeship program with funding from JPMorgan Chase.
DW reports that Axsos Academy just graduated its first cohort of Palestinian software developers in the West Bank.
Our Predictions for 2021
Online learning will continue to be the norm, but we’ll also see more hybrid (in-person and online) learning environments. Judging by the surge in demand for bootcamps in 2020, we will continue to see huge growth in the coding bootcamp space into 2021.
- In bootcamp curricula, Cybersecurity, data, and artificial intelligence/machine learning will rise in popularity in 2021.
- Under the new Biden administration, there could be some new regulation around university bootcamps, and either an external or (hopefully) internal push to share transparent outcomes data.
- Other policy changes may impact bootcamps, although the Biden/Harris administration has already shown support of vocational education. We are hoping to see meaningful collaboration between government and bootcamps (as was the case under the Obama administration).
And if any of our predictions come true, you’ll hear about them in exactly one year when we’re back to wrap up 2021!