How to build tech skills in your org with a learn-to-code bootcamp
Developer academies are immersive learning programs with in-person and virtual training for tech skills. Here’s how to build these learn-to-code bootcamps in your org.
Sep 15, 2023 • 5 Minute Read
- IT Ops
- Software Development
- Professional Development
- Team Development
- Learning & Development
Hiring external talent to fill open roles can be expensive—and there’s no guarantee you’ll find the talent you need in the marketplace, especially for emerging technologies like AI. Academies and coding bootcamps give your organization a way to develop existing talent for technical roles and new responsibilities.
Table of contents
Is a developer academy just a learn-to-code or coding bootcamp?
A developer academy is an immersive learning program for tech skills and knowledge. Through a mix of self-guided courses and instructor-led training, students complete projects, get hands-on practice, and receive the feedback and support they need to learn and retain new skills.
While we use the terms learn-to-code, coding bootcamp, and developer academy interchangeably, you can tailor developer academies for a variety of experience levels, topics, and tech skills (not just coding!). Cloud computing, cybersecurity, data science, DevOps, and front-end, back-end, and full-stack engineering are some of the most common focuses.
Opportunity Academies focus on empowering underrepresented groups to break into tech, but developer academies can be tailored for those in technical or non-technical fields.
How long should your learn-to-code bootcamp last?
On average, developer academies last 4 – 12 weeks depending on the topic and student experience level. For example, an academy teaching non-technical employees how to code is typically 8 – 18 weeks long. “The more novice the starters, the longer the academy,” shares Dana Wyatt, Director of Instructor Development at Pluralsight.
This time frame allows instructors to cover the material in depth and adjust the pace depending on their students’ needs. As a result, learners have time to practice their skills and take on projects. While academy participants won’t emerge as experts, they’ll get more hands-on experience and real-time feedback than a video course alone would provide.
What are the benefits of learn-to-code programs and coding bootcamps?
Organizations create learn-to-code programs and developer academies for a variety of reasons. One of the most common use cases is creating an internal talent pipeline for hard-to-fill tech roles.
Finding talent in the market consumes time and resources. And because you’re competing against hundreds of other organizations, you might not even secure the top talent. Instead of hunting for the exact skills and knowledge you need, you can develop talent from within.
Developer academies enable you to train your existing workforce in the exact skills, tools, and knowledge your organization needs. You can fill open roles while you build employee loyalty, boost retention, and provide more opportunities for career development.
What resources do you need to create your own learn-to-code bootcamp or developer academy?
The teams, tools, and resources you need to create a developer academy will depend on your organization’s goal. In general, though, there are a few key elements your organization should consider to create a successful learn-to-code bootcamp.
Start with executive sponsorship or buy-in
Developer academies are typically spearheaded by an executive sponsor (think someone at the SVP or C-suite level). This sponsor identifies a need and has a dedicated budget to reach that goal.
For example, an executive sponsor might note a lack of women in tech roles in their organization. They want to improve diversity and provide women alternate career paths with higher salaries. After some thought, they decide a coding bootcamp would be the best way to upskill more women for tech roles.
To make this a reality, they’ll gather a group of tech, HR, and/or learning and development leaders. This team will discuss the viability and logistics of a program, identify goals and metrics, and create an action plan.
Incorporate both tech and HR leadership
Because developer academies focus on tech skills, you need tech leaders to drive the program. These leaders will know the tech skills and roles your organization needs to deliver products and services and make a business impact. For example, if your academy focuses on cloud skills, you’ll want to include your cloud leaders or top cloud engineers.
Your HR and/or learning and development teams are also critical. These teams likely have experience creating learning programs. They’re familiar with the available learning resources, tech skill development platforms, and learning management best practices.
Your organization may also have hybrid roles, like principal learning engineers, that span the tech and learning fields. These people usually wield both formal learning experience and deep technical knowledge to create and facilitate technical learning programs.
Use experienced instructors with appropriate technical skills
Instructor-led training plays a big role in developer academies. That’s one of the perks of running a program like this: It’s not just video content. Learners get live instructor-led training and feedback from experienced teachers.
You might already employ technical instructors who can teach coding bootcamps. But if they can’t take on a weeks-long program, or you’re a smaller organization that doesn’t have dedicated instructors, you can also partner with external instructors.
Internal instructors will likely be more familiar with your business needs and existing learning resources. However, third-party instructors will complete in-depth discovery discussions to understand your goals and unique use cases. They’ll also leverage learning science best practices such as reducing cognitive load and facilitating flow state.
Establish business goals and success metrics to stay on track
All developer academies upskill your people. But learn-to-code programs are most effective when you identify clear goals and connect them to business outcomes. That involves comprehensive planning.
Let’s return to the earlier example of the executive sponsor who wants to upskill more women for tech roles and improve diversity. It’s an important goal, but what if they upskill women for tech roles only to find out they don’t have any open roles for them? They’ll equip women with valuable skills, but they won’t actually impact diversity in their tech org (their end goal).
As you build your developer academy, consider:
What technical skills do we need based on our job openings? Will graduates have new jobs after the coding bootcamp?
What skills do we need based on upcoming projects or business objectives?
Which teams will take the academy graduates?
Are there any common themes (like a certain programming language or cloud platform) that will determine the academy content?
Who can participate in the learn-to-code bootcamp? Are there any prerequisites?
How long will the academy last?
What learning resources will students need?
What does success look like? What metrics will we track?
Once you identify the goal for your developer academy, you can track the metrics to match. This allows you to understand how the learn-to-code program contributes to organizational objectives and impacts your bottom line.
Build tech skills and loyalty with developer academies
Learn-to-code programs empower you to build the tech skills you need with the people you have. Learn more about how Pluralsight helps organizations of all sizes build tech skills with immersive learning experiences and academies.