The Un-College That's Training $100,000 App Developers : NPR Ed General Assembly offers high-tech training face to face. Google and the Department of Education are paying attention.
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The Un-College That's Training $100,000 App Developers

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The Un-College That's Training $100,000 App Developers

The Un-College That's Training $100,000 App Developers

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/451999158/454192940" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Google is offering training. It's training on how to build applications for Android, the company's operating system. It's on more than a billion phones and other devices. And Google's offering the training and partnership with a for-profit education company.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

People are paying to attend a 12-week boot camp. Anya Kamenetz of NPR's Education team has been asking how it works.

ANYA KAMENETZ, BYLINE: Boot camp is a term used to describe, really, this entire new industry that's growing up in the past four or five years. And these are programs designed to teach cutting edge technical skills, like being a web developer or, in this case, a mobile developer. And they throw you in the deep end, and in the course of three to six months or so, they promise to make you employable and in a very lucrative industry to boot.

INSKEEP: And this is something that Google wants to do - why? - because they want more people to create more apps that can be used on their phones? Is that it?

KAMENETZ: That's exactly right. So, Android is the operating system, the largest mobile phone or smartphone operating system in the world. And demand for folks that can build using the Android platform, build smartphone apps, is soaring. There is a huge need for developers. Google is not training them themselves because these folks are not going to work directly for Google. So that's why they partnered up with this company called General Assembly to help them out.

INSKEEP: OK, so it's not job training where the company would pay for your training. You are going, and you are paying a for-profit institution to do what?

KAMENETZ: So about $13,500 in tuition, by the way.

INSKEEP: Wow.

KAMENETZ: And what Google has done is offered input in the form of curriculum development, and General Assembly is taking the lead on providing the actual teaching and the actual program as well as career services on the other end.

INSKEEP: OK, for-profit education is already under a lot of scrutiny because the education is not always that great. The institutions are not always well accredited. How does this for-profit education model stack up?

KAMENETZ: Well, I guess you could say that they are trying to be seen as being different, and many folks do see them as being different. So the coder boot camp industry - just a few weeks ago, the Federal Department of Education announced that they will be allowing traditional colleges to partner with these programs so that students can take these courses for credit. And that also means that they'll be able to pay for them with federal student loans and grants, which is unusual. You know, up to now, these programs have not been traditionally accredited, and so therefore, they're not eligible for Pell Grants or student loans.

INSKEEP: Does anybody know if those thousands of graduates of boot camps are getting jobs that are lucrative enough to be worth a $13,500 education?

KAMENETZ: Well, it depends on who you ask. The boot camps will tell you they have very high job placement rates, 90 to 95 percent, and that people are getting jobs with six figures. And it's certainly true that there's lots of openings for, say, an Android mobile app developer making, you know, $75,000 to $115,000 a year. Whether that success rate can be upheld especially as boot camps grow and perhaps are forced to become less selective in their students, that's something that really remains to be seen. And we have a desperate need for more objective information about how this sector is doing.

INSKEEP: Anya, thanks very much as always.

KAMENETZ: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's Anya Kamenetz of NPR's Ed team.

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