With the rapid development of technology, it becomes ever more evident that higher education is not producing the amount of graduates needed to fill job vacancies that are created with the development of new technologies. Countries such as India, China, South Korea and Japan lead the training of future leaders in this area, but it is not happening in all countries. It is for this reason that the bootcamps began to arise around the world and Latin america was not immune to this phenomenon.
In order to understand better the role of these programs, and know the impact you have had, we have interviewed the colombian Ilana Milkes, CEO of World Tech Makers (WTM), one of the companies of bootcamps pioneers in Latin America.
An engine for development
“There are 74 million young people in emerging markets who are not working nor studying, and that is a big problem,” says Milkes. “It is projected that there will be five million vacancies in technology in the year 2020 and it is a reality that companies cannot find the talent because the technologies are very new and there is not a training so quickly,” he adds.
In that sense, the bootcamps are a good bet to tackle this problem, since it is immersion courses fast to develop programming skills. Of course, the potential these courses have in developing countries is high, as they provide technological skills crucial without the need of having to pay an expensive tuition at a university and without having to sacrifice years of studying.
But the bootcamps are not limited to giving courses only. They also provide platforms for students and future entrepreneurs can have access to a network of support. This is possibly the key to the success of WTM, which has taken advantage of these networks to try to guarantee employment to students who complete their courses.
WTM boasts between 95 and 100 percent of chances of their graduates to find employment, a very important factor for those young people not currently working or studying and are looking for an alternative that guarantees them a successful future.
“We have a program called Apprentice where we came to an agreement with companies to hire students when they graduate, obviously ensuring minimum conditions of excellence and commitment,” says Milkes. This is something that highlights several of the students interviewed, that is to say, having access to a support network can be crucial for life-projects that have, either to create businesses or to get employment.
Such is the case of Johana Salinas, founder of Docmeti, a company that uses technology to personalize the care of the skin. “Thanks to WTM I am a leader of a fraternity of women that is focused on the study of the science of data and an ambassador of the organization Women in Data Science from Stanford University,” he says.
In essence, WTM has managed to create employment, both direct and indirect, by becoming a company that uses technology to change the world. And the world can be changed in many ways: not only filling the vacant positions of technology that may arise, but also solved other problems.
A good case of success of WTM is the de Tarefa, a platform of services designed by Philip Fields, who before joining the bootcamp was a teacher in a school. At the end of their courses in WTM started his own company, focused in the education and tutoring to students on an online platform.
Fields says that the most useful tools that you learned was the development of software, but at the same time, the access to networks of entrepreneurs. Today, Tarefa has 17 employees and expects that in the future your company will be a “hub” where we not only provided tutoring, but also an accompaniment to the student until they reach their first job.
But not all cases of success are limited to the creation of companies. The advantage of the technology is that this connects us, even when we are in remote areas. Such is the case of Juan David Reyes, who calls herself a “digital nomad”, that is to say, a person who works remotely and as a freelancer for 100 percent of the time. Kings indicates that, “in addition to learning how to program, the greatest value of a bootcamp is to be in a space, supported by a mentor, and sharing similar experiences with other students who are in the same way.”
The networks of entrepreneurs have also driven the growth of WTM. The access to the network Startup Chile and Cowork Latam, the company managed to establish itself in more countries, in addition to Brazil and Colombia. Today have a presence in Chile, Mexico, Spain , the united States, among others. In turn, a partnership with the World Bank managed to open the doors of the bootcamps to vulnerable and low-income. This has been a key, since despite the fact that the bootcamps are much cheaper than the higher education, continue to remain inaccessible to low-income people, whose percentage is higher in developing countries.
A year ago, have graduated to the 1st generation of #Makers of Medellin getting a 95% employability.Very soon we will be opening our new call!
Milkes account that it all started with a race that they won, and next to this institution took its program to one of the poorest neighborhoods of Medellín. “We took six classes and in each one of them had 20 students. Are communes so far away that they do not have access to public transportation and who are in a poverty absurd,” says Milkes. However, there were a few labs that local public enterprises had built, where they could access the internet.
And despite the fact that the infrastructure problem was resolved, there were other challenges that neither she nor the teachers had anticipated. Many students came to school without having eaten and the conditions of insecurity in the area were so large that they came to steal the trainers even two times a week. Even so, continued to work and graduated to 85 percent of the students.
“One of the boys was working in a call center of a multinational company and is now working in another role at that same institution; the other girl was working in a butcher shop and is now employed in a development company”, indicates Milkes. “It was a year very challenging, but have managed to graduate 85 percent of the students was something very comforting”, added to the end of narrating this experience that scarred her deeply.
A funding model that opens doors
A lot of talk about the free higher education to global level. Some people are against it, others in favor and in general is highly politicized. Each area is different and in the case of bootcamps, Milkes think that it is important that people invest something in addition to the time. “We had sponsorships from 100 percent, but when you give it all not necessarily what you appreciate”.
After having experimented with various models, are now starting with one called “income sharing”, which provides the possibility to the students to pay an initial fee and subsequently pay the monthly fees once you have already started to work. “This allows the barriers of entry will decrease and be self-sustaining without the need of external funding,” adds Milkes.
Also, WTM is polishing its funding scheme to be adjusted to the realities in Latin america. “In the united States the bootcamps don’t cost less than $6,000 or $7,000 for a course of six months. We are restructuring our model to the bootcamps do not have a cost greater than $2,000 dollars in total.”
In the colombian context, is not an investment cheap taking into account that the minimum monthly wage in the country is $260 dollars. Even so, comparing this cost with that of the private universities and the difficulties to access to public universities, remains a more viable option for low-income people. “In addition, we have the guarantee of employability is very high,” says Milkes.
But $2,000 dollars, you can continue to be a high price for many. For this reason, WTM has created a platform called bootcampsonline, that for around $30 dollars a month gives you access to classes live and updated resources. “We want more people to have access to this without compromising the quality,” stresses Milkes to talk about their strategy and how it compares its proposal with respect to the competition.
Betting on the future
The word “future” comes in many times accompanied by the word “children”, and in the case of technology, it is even more so. It is no secret that the greater access to technological tools they have the children, the more rapid is the assimilation and familiarity, as well as the capabilities that they can develop when they are teenagers and adults.
Therefore, Milkes is looking for a way to reach out to the smaller, not necessarily through their courses in the great cities of the world, but also in remote areas where there is adequate infrastructure having physical facilities and where internet speeds are very low or simply no access to the network.
Each area is different and in the case of bootcamps, Milkes think that it is important that people invest something in addition to the time.
With the aim of reducing the infamous “digital divide”, which is nothing more than a reflection of the social inequalities, the colombian created another organization called Digital Native who won a prize in the inter-American Development Bank.
Digital native (called a Heartbit in English) sent Maker Kits development both parents and children in the remote places of his native country as the Chocó or the Guajira. These kits are described as “educational experiences that are physical, combined with the software and content that can be, or is not, connected to the Internet”. It is, in essence, an education system that is cross-platform that stimulates learning STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math for its acronym in English).
The adoption of technological skills is crucial to the future of the next generation because, according to Milkes, 80 percent of the jobs in 2030 will have the technological bases.
The kits are distributed to students between the ages of 4 and 18 years of age. It has also a special line for young people who have more than 18 years and who need or want to adopt technology skills. The initiative is supported by recognized educational institutions as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tecnológico de Monterrey.
Taking into account that the access to quality education and to higher education is in many parts of Latin america a luxury, the work of a Digital Native and World Tech Makers not only helps people have the necessary skills to be productive, but also that there is this opportunity that previously kept the technology out of the reach of many people in the region.
According to a World Bank report, “some of the causes of the high dropout rate (of higher education) include the lack of academic preparation, in part due to the poor quality education they receive in secondary school, and the lack of economic means among students of scarce resources. It can also be due to the long duration of some of the programs, as well as the lack of flexibility to change career”. As we have exposed throughout this paper, these causes are trying to be alleviated by initiatives such as the Ilana Milkes.
Change the world by means of technology not only requires time and effort, but, in addition, it is necessary to understand the environment in order to identify opportunities, to do much more than relieve and treat the root of the problem.
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