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Coding bootcamps as a response to the shortage of digital talent in Latin America

A new publication of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) entitled “Disrupting Talent: The Emergence of Coding Bootcamps and the Future of Digital Skills”, explores the potential of bootcamps as a fast and effective alternative to solve the shortage of digital talent in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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The bootcamps are intensive training programs in digital technologies, with an approximate duration of 3 to 6 months, which are being offered by innovative startups in the educational field, either for the updating and retraining of workers, or as an alternative or complement for young people who they look for technical and university courses. These programs offer training in programming, data science, web design, cybersecurity, among others and can encourage the development of quality jobs in high value-added industries.

Recent reports, such as the Global Innovation Barometer 2018, indicate that there is a widespread concern among business leaders about the shortage of human capital with the digital skills necessary to support digital transformation and innovation in companies. Compared to traditional education systems, bootcamps offer: high-quality technical training updated to technological dynamics, relevant to the market and at relatively accessible costs. In addition, graduates of bootcamps are very well received by employers. In the United States, more than 70 percent of companies that have hired bootcamp graduates are satisfied with their performance, and 99 percent say they plan to continue hiring them.

"The bootcamps are making high-tech skills and jobs cease to be a monopoly for highly trained engineers or mathematicians, opening the possibility of a career in technology to individuals with few or no antecedents of technological education," says Juan Carlos Navarro, IDB Specialist in the Division of Competitiveness, Technology and Innovation and co-author of the study with Alison Cathles.

In 2018, bootcamp providers are already more than 300, with an estimated revenues of $240 million worldwide. However, its presence in Latin America and the Caribbean is still limited, although some providers are offering their courses online in the region. Only two of the first 50 bootcamps included in the Switch Up Ranking are in the region, with classroom courses in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

The study highlights that, to promote bootcamps and respond to the challenge of the shortage of digital skills, governments can reduce obstacles to future students through financial aid; develop public-private partnerships to address the shortage of digital talent through bootcamps; and increase the accessibility and possibility of entering bootcamps, through more basic training programs through formal education, among other actions.

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The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region. 

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Juan Carlos Navarro
IDB Science and Technology Principal Technical Leader
juancn@iadb.org