Bootcamp approach won't create IT professionals: IITP

Would developer bootcamps - up to three months of intensive training in software programming - work in New Zealand? Yesterday Computerworld featured the views of Xero, Orion Health and Catalyst IT. Today we present the views of Tim Bell from Canterbury University and Paul Matthews from the Institute of IT Professionals.

Academic view

Professor Tim Bell, deputy head of department at the computer science and software engineering at Canterbury University, has spent a lot of time improving the high school curriculum to give students the opportunity to explore the knowledge and skills behind the technical side of computing.

When asked about the bootcamp concept, he says there is a place for it.

"I think the boot camps would work for some combinations of people and jobs, but in general the idea of an education isn't to teach a few skills that are badly needed, but to give a broad experience in a range of areas so the graduates know what they don't know, and know how to learn on the job.

"Bootcamps would be suitable for a person with a particular set of traits (ability to work under pressure, pick things up quickly etc), and in New Zealand the population may not be large enough to make it viable. Such people may find other paths anyway - self teaching etc," he says.

Industry body view

Institute of IT Professionals CEO Paul Matthews says it's possible to teach person to code in nine weeks, but that doesn't make them a professional.

"Having said that, these bootcamps usually fall within two categories -- catering for those really starting out and looking to get a foot in the door (and going onto an apprentice-like or supporting role); and those that actually can code already, but lack the formal training where the underlying concepts are explored in greater detail and the more professional aspects are covered (such as testing regimes, documentation, good code, security fundamentals, etc)," he says.

"In both of those circumstances they can be very positive -- but certainly not taking someone with no development experience and turning them into a professional developer in three months."

"Being a successful software developer is more than just being able to write code, however many in our field are self-taught. If these bootcamps are targeted at rounding the sharp edges off self-taught developers then there's certainly a place for them."

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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