Boot Camps, Nanodegrees, and Certificates

Incremental, Sufficient Higher Education

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“Established employees who don’t have harder technology skills have an uphill battle. But you don’t need a degree. There are bootcamps and online ways you can learn basic coding.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               —Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor chief economist

The cost of and the time to complete a college education are forcing change.  The Flatiron School, General Assembly, Udacity, and The Firehose Project are some of the “bootcamps” or nanodegree providers whose short-term laser-focused programs are preparing college students or former students and now entrepreneurs or employees with broader professional and technical skills.

Horizonte’s and Salt Lake Community College’s (SLCC) pilot version is informally called Basic Business Stackable Certificates.  The pilot’s students, pictured above, have completed the first summer semester classes of computer literacy and business marketing.  All ESL (English Second Language) students with relatively short U.S. residency, with the help of mentors and tutors, competed successfully with other undergraduate business students.  All but one are registered for the second intensive round in Fall Semester.  The loner is engineering bound with the summer credits conveniently applying to his major.

The 341 Horizonte graduates, who also have graduated from SLCC the last five years, average about 32 years old and are more than 60 percent female and 80 percent minority.  They averaged more than six years pursing a “two-year” degree.  Could they not have done as well for themselves career-wise and time-wise by pursing a applied tech certificate in business or health care or digital technology?  I wish we could compare the 141 School of Applied Tech (SAT) certificate holders’ current circumstances, who took three years in attaining their professional certifications, intended for 18 months or less, with the six year associate degree attainees.

Horizonte is not only advancing formerly unsuccessful high schoolers to their primary education diploma but is trying to break the spell of everything college being bachelor’s or higher degrees. SLCC offers apprenticeship programs (ex. Construction Manager, Plumber, Mason), continuing education certifications (ex. Pharmacy Tech, Electrical Lineman, Event Planner), and applied technical certificates in eight broad career areas from accounting to welding.  Providing awareness of these opportunities is the recognized challenge, responsibility and opportunity.