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Red Tape in the Golden State
California Code Bootcamps Trapped in Regulatory Web

California’s strict regulations on everything from home construction to green energy are the stuff of legend, but now the regulatory apparatus is stepping on the toes of one of the state’s favored industries. Coding bootcamps—brief training courses where students of all ages receive intensive programming instruction—have become a hot item in California as people without an academic background in computer science seek to gain coding skills in the hopes of landing a job in the lucrative tech industry.

Last month, however, a number of these bootcamps received a notice from California’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education that they were not in compliance with the agency’s regulations, and would need to come into compliance immediately or else be forced shut down and risk a $50,000 fine. Needless to say, this has ruffled a few feathers, and given the length of time required to gain regulatory approval, many programs think they’re doomed either way. And as VentureBeat reports, many are concerned that existing regulations are not set up with these sorts of courses in mind:

Anthony Phillips, cofounder of Hack Reactor, said the founders of these bootcamps are not averse to oversight and regulation in principle. ”I would like to be part of a group that creates those standards,” he said in an interview at the Hack Reactor offices in downtown San Francisco. “However, what that looks like and what makes sense for our schools is not necessarily going to fit in the current regulations.”

It’s true that some of these schools have had mixed results, and occasionally they make unrealistic promises about the average starting salaries graduates can expect. Regulators have a reasonable mandate to keep schools honest in their promotional materials. Some of the new regulations, however—particularly one that requires that every teacher must have a bachelor’s degree—strike us as unnecessary and outdated, and seem more designed to ensure that traditional colleges retain their market share than keeping students from being ripped off.

At a time when college costs are skyrocketing and many grads are having difficulty finding jobs, alternate routes to the workforce are especially important. Intensive, short courses that give people the skills to break into in-demand fields relatively swiftly are, at the very least, worthy of consideration. State governments should be trying to update and simplify regulations to make operations easier for the businesses trying to fill this need.

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  • Boritz

    California’s strict regulations on everything from home construction to green energy are the stuff of legend…

    Legend, yeah. That’s the word that consummately captures the California regulatory state. a

  • Andrew Allison

    Whilst agreeing with the disgust at Kalifornia’s impetus to regulate everything except boondoggles like the high-speed train to nowhere, this one may not be all bad. The market for coders is quite limited, and the blossoming of coding boot-camps may simply be opportunism.

    • Boritz
       By Rebecca Hiscott2014-01-21 10:39:29 UTC
      The tech sector is booming. If you’ve used a smartphone or logged on to a computer at least once in the last few years, you’ve probably noticed this.
      As a result, coding skills are in high demand, with programming jobs paying significantly more than the average position.

      • Andrew Allison

        Surely you jest? The article you cite provides precisely zero evidence to support the asseertion.

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