Breaking Down Employment Barriers with Tech Training Alternatives

Jan 9, 2019
9 Min Read
Today's Tech Bottleneck is Driven by a Lack of Efficient, Alternative Training Paths for Workers

In our first post, we examined the existence of a Tech Bottleneck that prevents a growing number of underemployed workers from migrating to a growing number of tech jobs.

The main drivers for this tech bottleneck are a lack of efficient, alternative educational paths to upskill the workforce and high levels of complexity in digital tools, resulting in higher barriers of entry into the tech labor force (illustrated below).

Diagram of tech worker bottleneck due to complex digital tools and a tech labor shortage

Addressing these two issues would not only increase mobility into the tech space, but also result in a more productive, employed workforce.

Let’s start with issue #1: the lack of efficient, alternative training paths for people interested in migrating into the tech workforce.

The struggle with traditional education paths

Traditionally, universities have been the primary channel for developing new technology professionals. However, traditional 4-year technical degrees are increasingly becoming a poor fit for three reasons:

1) Time: Earning a traditional degree takes 4 years. That is 4 years of wages and experience candidates are sacrificing to earn the degree.

2) Focus: Traditional degrees focus on teaching a variety of content that does not directly relate to developing technology skills. While there are benefits to a well-rounded education, it can be unnecessary when the primary goal is employment.

3) Cost: From 2007 to 2017, college tuition has increased 63% (compared to overall inflation of 21% in the same period). This increase in cost has made it difficult for people to pay for their education.

This is not sustainable. It’s no surprise that over the last decade non-traditional educational options have gained traction to address the skills gap in tech. The major alternatives that have experienced rapid adoption include:


MOOCs stand for Massive Open Online Courses. Modern MOOCs borrow from the traditional course structure found in universities. Content can include recorded lectures and self-serve tests that students can use to teach themselves new skills at their own pace. MOOCs offer paid and free content and have expanded their footprint to offer career support and corporate training. According to a study by Class Central, while growth in MOOC enrollment has stalled, paid users are up. The growth in paid users and sustainable revenue is strong proof of the value MOOCs are providing to its user base.

Growth of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC) illustration in chart form

Popular MOOCs: Coursera, edX, Udacity, Future Learn

Learning Communities

In addition to one-way delivery of courses and content, peer-to-peer knowledge transfer has also proven to be an effective channel for building new skills. This knowledge transfer generally happens in communities. Communities are online forums where people of different levels of expertise go to discuss a topic. Communities can center around anything including arts and crafts, automobiles or software development. In tech, communities come in different forms: many MOOCs have added communities to supplement their offerings, software vendors offer communities for new developers to grow and stand-alone communities like Skillshare and Stack Overflow offer forums where content and insights can be shared by peers.

Popular Communities: Stack Overflow, Skillshare, Trailhead

Companies have also seen the value in creating product-specific communities where customers can ask questions and discuss solutions to unique challenges. Check out the community we have at Quick Base.

Coding Boot Camps

Bootcamps lay somewhere between MOOCs and traditional degrees. Bootcamps are structured, technical training programs that train students on a software development skillset. According to a Course Report study, the bootcamp market has experienced a 9x increase in graduates. In addition to an increase in graduates, there are other signals that point to boot camps becoming more relevant training grounds for technical workers. Many universities are beginning to partner with boot camps by allowing them to use university facilities or earn college credits via bootcamp courses. Additionally, the Department of Education’s EQUIP program is piloting the benefits of college / boot camp partnerships, enabling students to use federal aid for these non-traditional programs.

Popular Boot Camps: Actualize, App Academy, BrainStation

The emergence and growth of these alternative educational paths support the idea that there is growing demand for more efficient and accessible training alternatives. These alternatives still have obstacles they need to overcome in gaining legitimacy amongst a larger audience and proving their effectiveness in translating education into jobs. But as they progress, they ease the Tech Bottleneck and make it easier for the under employed to migrate into the tech workforce, resulting in a diminished tech talent shortage.

In my next post, we will examine the second driver for the tech bottleneck, the complexity of digital tools and market offerings emerging to tackle this issue.

Quick Base enables people across every industry, job function, and experience level to build business apps that improve the way they work – and with no programming experience required. Many builders learn Quick Base on-the-job, growing their Quick Base skills as an extension of their current role. We’re inspired by our customers who come up with innovative solutions with our platform every day, and have shaped entire careers around the skills they’ve built with Quick Base. Here are a few of our favorite stories:

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