Can Professional Bootcamps Take HBCUs to the Next Level?

Breaking down the industries, certifications to help HBCUs advance in the 21st century

Breaking down the industries, certifications to help HBCUs advance in the 21st century

A recent report from Course Report offers the first comprehensive glimpse at the impact of coding bootcamps; professional for-profit courses that offer certifications in code writing for entry-level and working computer scientists.

The findings are both encouraging and frightening — more than 70 percent of learners who sign up for these bootcamps go on to get jobs where they use the skills learned in the courses every day. More than 60 percent have earned raises after attending these bootcamps.

And, African-Americans who enroll in and complete coding bootcamps are the highest earners among all racial and ethnic groups to be analyzed in the survey.

The data is encouraging because it reveals a pathway for black people to gain professional ground in a competitive field over-represented by White and Asian peers. But it is frightening because historically black colleges and universities have not picked up on the professional credentialing movement as a necessary tool for keeping our schools open, and our communities solvent.

The Urgency of Now for HBCUs

This movement is not just about the consumer will of American workers. The US Department of Education last month announced plans to pair private companies and select two-year and four-year institutions to pilot new degree programs in technology, criminal justice and manufacturing — programs that will allow students to borrow federal financial aid to pay for the tuition and fees.

Courses will be taught mostly by the private companies — not the traditional institutions. When adding this pilot program’s mission to the federal government’s recently-revealed College Scorecard data, the message is clear; soon, financial aid will only be available for schools that prove they can help graduates to find jobs that afford the ability to pay down loan debt.

Today, more than 60 percent of employers say new college graduates cannot write well, cannot communicate effectively or think independently. And if you’re black, you can add a hidden 20 percent on the attitudes about black graduates, and an infinite estimation on how it impacts the lives of families and communities.

HBCUs need to move fast in building credentialing programs which offer graduates a degree and a certification which makes them viable candidates for a well-paying job at entry-level, middle management and executive levels. It is no longer enough to say you have a degree in communications from Howard or an engineering degree from North Carolina A&T, or a degree in criminal justice from Texas Southern; statements that just 20 years ago, were enough to, minimally, get an HBCU graduate into a second interview.

Areas of HBCU Professional Impact

Looking at some of the developing cities in the national HBCU community, and the strongest HBCU programs in these regions provides a solid view of where HBCUs can look to broker professional credentialing opportunities and partnerships to receive their certified graduates.

Fastest Growing Industries

  • Healthcare

  • Business and Professional Services

  • Computer Software Development

  • Information Technology

  • Transportation

Professional Certifications with Connections to Popular HBCU Majors

Mass Communications

Computer Science/Information Technology

Secondary Education

Nursing/Public Health/Biology

Social Work

Business Administration

Engineering