While unemployment rates remain staggeringly high across much of Europe, companies in the tech sector are struggling to fill vacancies due to a massive skills gap.
Almost half the EU population – 47 percent – lack proper digital skills, according to the European Commission, which estimates this will result in up to 700,000 unfilled jobs by 2020.
To combat the trend, coding bootcamps have been cropping up all over the world, and their popularity is only increasing. Seen as an alternative to traditional university degrees, they accelerate the learning process, often cramming two or three years-worth of learning into a short eight to twelve weeks.
They're also heavily career focused, so graduates don't have to worry about that ‘what am I going to do now' dread that plagues many graduates of traditional university programs.
And one such bootcamp that combines top-notch coding know-how with a global perspective is Ironhack.
Started in Spain by two business school grads, Ironhack is an intensive bootcamp, running full-stack courses in web development and UX/UI design. The program now offers courses in Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, and Miami and aims to place graduates in 100,000 unfilled IT jobs, while at the same time creating a more tech and code literate population.
Having these skills opens up a world of opportunities - and the opportunities are there, waiting to be taken.
The UX/UI Design Program on the other hand, focuses on the more creative side of the tech world. Students learn how to improve the user experience (UX) – how a product ‘feels' – so that things flow logically and naturally. And a big part of that is the layout and design of the user interface (UI).
With Ironhack's UX/UI Design 8-week course, students learn how to use programs like Sketch and Balsamiq along with front-end frameworks like Bootstrap that will equip them to design the next breakout smartphone app.
Taught during the summer months, the bootcamps are perfect for someone wanting a career change, as well as recent graduates, entrepreneurs, and anyone else looking to get ahead.
“I was working a boring 9 to 5 job as a customer service agent and decided it was time for a change,” says Wilfred Rios, who graduated from the first Ironhack UX/UI class to graduate from Miami.
“About a month later, I landed my first internship; joining Ironhack was the best decision I ever made - it completely changed my life!”
Courtney Williams also graduated from the UX/UIDesign Program in Miami.
“There is a tremendous amount of information to absorb, perhaps too much, but the information is accessible even to complete non-techies like myself,” she explains.
The courses may be demanding and intensive, but the two month slog always proves to be worth it.
"Ironhack provided me with a quality certificate showing employers that I have a strong foundation as a software engineer," explains Karolin Siebert from Berlin, who enrolled in the Web Development Program.
Katalin says the bootcamp was a great idea for her personally - but adds it's a lot of work, so you should know what you want out of it ahead of time.
"You have to know why and what you want to do with it. Otherwise, you're not going to have enough drive or patience for the course," she says.
And Ironhack is more than a school. Students are supported through and after their courses, with expert career advice and assistance to help them land jobs in the tech world.
Both programs are followed by a career/hiring week where students receive help with CVs, portfolios, and interview prep. In addition, students are introduced to companies in Ironhack's extensive global partner network.
“During the course, some of the organisers would ask about our goals. I knew I wanted to be in Southern France," Ironhack graduate Cat Burston explains.
"The Ironhack team then went through their contact list, found a group of startups based in Montpellier and came back to me with their details. I contacted a few of them and went in for an interview after the course had finished...and a couple of days later, one asked me when I could start!”
It's that sort of support that has helped Ironhack attain an 86 percent placement rate for its graduates.
“Daniel helped us with our resumes and online presence, he prepared us for our future interviews and introduced us to many employers. He always kept me accountable and motivated to never give up,” Alvaro recalls.
“Ironhack is not only a bootcamp, it's a life-changing experience and a family that will always be there for you,” he adds.
“It was through Ironhack that I discovered this passion and set a new dream for my professional career.”