As employers expand the repertoire of technical skills expected from future employees, many coding boot camps are struggling to keep up with the changing demands. In a New York Times article published last week, journalist Steve Lohr explores the sustainability challenges facing these institutions.
While for-profit coding opportunities appear to be struggling, according to TechCrunch, last week Uber has given a $1.2 million grant to the non-profit organization Girls Who Code. Girls Who Code provides programs aimed to close the gender gap within the tech industry, teaching young women technical skills through summer immersion programs at prestigious tech companies and after school clubs, many of which are hosted at libraries. While valid criticisms of Uber’s motivations for the donation abound, including Black Girls Code‘s decision to refuse a much smaller grant from the tech-giant for ethical reasons, it appears that non-profit organizations aimed at teaching technical skills are still going strong, despite the drop-off in similar for-profit organizations.
How do libraries fit into these shifting trends? As established community organizations, libraries have the benefit of longevity. Newer companies face different challenges as they try to solidify organizational culture, community influence, and a sustainable business plan. Funding is also an issue for both for-profit and non-profit organizations.
How can we ensure that our programming remains relevant to the present needs of employers and society at large? As for-profit coding boot camps dwindle, libraries should seize this opportunity to provide a much-needed community service and to attract new users. Libraries operate on limited resources and may not have the tools or expertise to develop cutting-edge programming. Partnerships with non-profits, such as Black Girls Code or Girls Who Code, allow libraries to offer their physical space and community influence, while letting focused organizations use their expertise to create dynamic programming. It seems like a win-win.
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