Jobs of the future are not the same as the jobs of the past

We live in a time of massive economic disruption. Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and data had begun to automate the global jobs market long before COVID-19 but pandemic-induced lockdowns have accelerated this to open up a chasm between the jobs of the past and the jobs of future.

Our existing education system was never designed to help millions of workers to migrate rapidly to new future-facing roles. But this is exactly what needs to happen if we’re to stand any chance of finding new jobs for the millions of soon-to-be unemployed. Bootcamps offer a solution, and it’s time we created a National Bootcamp Network, free and accessible to all.

In 2011, Marc Andreesen wrote “Software is eating the world”. Today software is everywhere and in everything: digital health, cars, media, shopping, learning. If organisations don’t already see themselves as tech companies or digital-first, they’ll soon be swallowed by one that does. This disruption creates as many new jobs as it destroys.

Dr. Chris Meah

But these jobs of the future are not the same as the jobs of the past.

Bootcamps power, growth and work

As we emerge from the pandemic and job support programmes tail off, unemployment is expected to rise dramatically. Many jobs will be permanently lost. Instead of trying to recreate the past, it’s time for us to reskill ourselves and our organisations for tech-powered future growth.

Bootcamps are the missing link needed to prepare our education system for this step change in the way our economy operates. They offer a short, intensive, immersive and transformational learning sprint to a new career and change lives and power growth by giving participants the right skills to be immediately useful to employers on day one.

But crucially participants also learn how to learn. ‘Bootcampers’ are adaptable — they’re able to keep learning, transform and grow in fast-changing roles. It’s about getting into work and being useful now, not getting a generic qualification and having to spend time settling into each new job.

Bootcamps give second chances

Technology continually creates and destroys jobs. This is being accelerated by COVID-19.

Most people will not keep the same stable jobs for their whole lives anymore. Having to make a single educational decision of life-defining importance at the age of 16 or 18 no longer makes sense, given the speed at which the world is changing — those choices will look very different at 25, 30, 40 and 50.

Bootcamps have sprouted around the world to solve this problem. But these only work for the privileged few who can afford the upfront fees of on average £10k.

The right model now is for Tech Bootcamps to be free, with the only entry requirement being the drive and desire to learn and grow. These should be funded by the government as an investment in talent to power our future growth, with the expectation of increased salary and PAYE growth post-bootcamp. ‘Bootcampers’ should be able to claim benefits while they retrain, to mean that it is truly accessible to all.

The support and funding that we receive from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the Department for Education (DfE) and our employer partners has been instrumental in enabling us to achieve progress towards this vision and continue to deliver using this model.

Everyone should have the opportunity to jump into the growth jobs of the future, no matter where they are now.

Scale it now

We set School of Code up to see if anyone could learn how to code and enter the tech workforce. We are on our seventh free, 16-week bootcamp in Birmingham that takes people from scratch to professional developers, before helping them into new tech jobs. We’ve achieved 85%+ of our ‘bootcampers’ being employed within three months of finishing the bootcamp even in the midst of COVID-19. At the end of our programmes there is a job and a life completely changed.

Employers value ‘bootcampers’ highly and we work with each of our employer partners to understand their business and the changing technical needs so that we can develop the right talent that their company actually needs. We are really proud of having been able to, so far, support more than 115 people to move into digital jobs in the West Midlands, with local employer partners including PurpleBricks, Wise and Santander, and to now be able to offer this model to more locations across the UK. Many of these jobs also come with an average starting salary band sitting around £27,000 – £32,000 pa, which can be lifechanging for many of our participants.

Why are we sharing our model? To encourage people to join in. We’ve proven this can work, and hope that more people will take the leap in helping build a network of bootcamps for each future-facing, high-growth industry.

Why employers love School of Code ‘bootcampers’

Because we build a pool of diverse, ready to work tech talent with the energy and drive to help companies grow. Diverse in all senses: demographic, age, approach, experience, mindset and culture.

The School of Code has received more than 7,000 applications for our cohorts so far, and our bootcamp cohorts are representative of the local population today: an age range of 18–60, 50:50 gender split, and a hyper diverse demographic and cultural mix, this will continue to be the case as we expand nationally. We’ve enjoyed a life changing journey with unemployed people, refugees, bakers, artists, musicians, barbers, teachers, school leavers, graduates, return to work parents, probation court officers, PhDs, entrepreneurs, sales staff, retail workers, warehouse workers, admin assistants and sheep shearers to name just a few.

We all know tech has a historic diversity problem. The reality is that today, tech is a team sport. The more well-rounded the team is, the more cognitively diverse. The more varied the backgrounds, the higher the level of performance.

Free bootcamps now is the right answer to today’s global challenge. Together, we can unlock an accelerated path for everyone into the tech jobs that will power our future growth.


Dr. Chris Meah

School of Code


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