Skills, not schools, are in demand among developers
The pathway to a software developer job has shifted over the years. It used to be that you had to go through a college computer science program before you could get a developer job. But as online education became better and programming jobs became more specialized, people were getting hired on the strength of their bootcamp or certification experience. Our 2021 Developer Survey found that almost 60% of respondents learned to code using online resources.
On this sponsored episode of the podcast, we chat with Mike Hendrickson, the VP of Tech and Dev products at Skillsoft, about the certifications and upskilling that they offer, as well as how that fits into the changing world of developer recruitment.
Mike spent most of his time in the worlds of programmer education and publishing, including a 14 year stint at O’Reilly Media. He worked with numerous great technologists, people who wrote popular languages, and other luminaries in the software world. Much of his focus was on analyzing the signals that come from the data he saw and the conversations with people around the world.
What those signals told him was the focus for recruiters was on skills instead of educational background. A computer science education used to be the thing that proved you had the skills. But not everyone has the four years to spend getting a degree. In today’s tech industry, many people turn to Skillsoft and other companies for certifications and classes that provide a quick boost in skills to prepare them for a changing job market.
It’s not just people who want to break into programming who can benefit from online courses and certifications; working developers who want to continue to succeed need to make learning a habit. That can be hard to manage with a full-time job, so their organizations need to make learning a cultural norm. Setting time aside every day for learning pays dividends, not just for the individual, but for that organization.
With the incredible growth of cloud adoption in the past couple of years, one of the hottest skills in demand right now is cloud engineering. Skillsoft offers an AWS certification course that prepares you for the certification exam. Like many of their other courses, it caters to different learning styles and modalities, while also letting you get comfortable and assess your readiness by taking practice exams.
With a little bit of intent and planning, you can build a skill path that gets you hired or lets you make the next leap in your career. The world of software is always changing and you as a developer need change with it. With course completions and certifications, you’ll have the skills and the evidence to show employers.
If you’re interested in learning more about Skillsoft’s offerings, check out http://www.globalknowledge.com/aws30.Tags: aws, partner content, partnercontent, the stack overflow podcast, training
When I was first promoted to an engineering position with hiring authority, I gave a lot of weight to college degrees. That didn’t last long. I quickly found the best technical programmers were ones that picked up coding on their own. They were fascinated by the fact that what they could make was only limited by their own effort. I’ve hired great programmers from UCSF, Berkeley, UCLA and some with a just a high school education.
However, assuming the skills, it’s much easier to get employed without a degree at smaller companies. Larger ones, especially those with government contracts, tend to skew towards degrees as HR may screen against a checklist. Personally, I like small companies because it’s far easier to see the impact of your work and it’s also easier to see what is needed and how to adjust your work to provide the greatest benefit to your employer. That has the not surprising result of producing good raises.
This touches on a recent Q&A in CS Educators SE. The question is about current controversies in CS education, and the [relevant answer](https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/a/7159/11359) is about the purpose of CS education. In my experience, most CS professors are in the answer’s “other camp” that says CS is a highly theoretical academic subject. They’re fully aware that they’re not teaching any commercially valuable skill, and they don’t care.
With a solid grasp of the fundamentals anyone with sufficient motivation can quickly learn whatever the latest in demand fad looks like. CS degrees should absolutely be teaching you to think about the bigger picture question as any tech they focus on will be obsolete within 10 years no matter what. And the worst case of both paths is the people who end up learning to copy and paste without making any attempt at understanding why something they’ve found is useful. Good education of any shape pushes that curiosity.
Schools aren’t in demand? Ok, then tell me why FAANG companies are chock full of ivy-league engineers? tell me why in 15 years of hiring I’ve never had an ivy-league resume float across my desk at the very mundane, non-silicon-valley-tier firms I’ve worked at? Bottom line is if you want world class engineering, you seek out certified world class engineers (via world class institutions). You telling me anything else is disingenuous or idealistic IMO.
What this article conveniently forgets is that just learning to code is not enough. Sending people through a mere three month boot camp or giving them a “quick boost” in skills does not create job-ready developers. They may know their way around a language or even two, but all the hard fundamentals like the math underneath, how languages work at the lowest level are just not there, because this takes a lot of time and and mental effort.
I am not per se against boot camps but people should be aware that they only know the minimum amount of knowledge required and there will always be a large gap between them and people who had a more formal education if they don’t read up on these topics. Also this whole industry is basically exploiting people who really believe that they could be a developer within this short time frame.
The problem is not getting a jcoding ob. The problem is creating a career without a degree. That is why I always tell juniors without a degree to get one. Better positions in big companies or going into management are out of reach if you cannot prove your engineering fundamentals with a degree. – Companies love juniors without degree because they are much cheaper than those with a degree but they are also much easier to replace.
Ok explain this, why senior engineers with years of experience and a degree lack some of the basic qualities of a good developer? Why graduates of some big institutions lack good communication skills? I definitely agree about the management part, but is it the only way of “growth”? As far as big companies is concerned, FAANGs do not reject non-graduates due to lack of degree but because of high frequency of referrals and lack of referrals.
It’s nothing but the mentality, the mindset, we have been taught since a very young age how the world functions, and a “degree” plays a huge role in that story.
But, what if we, just for once look through it, why not build an ecosystem that favors both? In fact, self-taught developers are more keen on working, reason they are self taught.
Nevertheless, we will one day revolutionize this mindset!
College is really about two things, and only one of those is education. The other one is building your network. The guy sitting next to you in your data structures class today is the hiring manager of tomorrow, or the trusted FAANG engineer who’s being told, “I wish we could clone you. Do you know anybody else with your skills that we can hire?”