Last month, the Society for Human Resource Management reported that software engineers will be one of the most difficult positions to fill in 2016, with three jobs open for every new college graduate from a computer science program. The article also cited the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ estimate that 222,600 software engineering jobs will need to be filled by 2022.

Tech industry leaders are trying to find alternative learning programs to fill the gaps they believe are left open by higher education. In March, the Obama Administration launched the TechHire Initiative to work with colleges and universities as well as “nontraditional approaches” like coding bootcamps. Also, earlier this month, the federal Department of Education announced a pilot program to offer federal loans and grants for such programs.

Also known as accelerated learning programs (ALPs) or coding schools, coding bootcamps are short (lasting weeks rather than the years it takes to complete a degree) but intense programs where full-time students are immersed in instruction and real-life application of what they learn. This structure is designed to meet the needs of companies, which don’t have the time or resources to train new programmers, and professionals seeking a career change, who don’t have the time to earn another degree.

Coding bootcamps are not without their detractors, who believe such a short course cannot adequately provide the skills needed to be a qualified software engineer. Critics also point to a lack of data due to the newness of coding bootcamps. There is also the question of regulation. Last year, the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education sent cease and desist letters to several bootcamps, including Hack Reactor, saying they had not been approved by the agency and were therefore “unlicensed postsecondary educational institutions.” In order to avoid paying a fine, the bootcamps were required to demonstrate they were “making a good effort to come into compliance with the law.”

Still, the coding bootcamp is a potentially good source of new software development talent – or at least a popular one. LinkedIn’s Economic Graph, which collected data on over 150 bootcamp programs and more than 25,000 LinkedIn members who attend or have attended, shows that the number of bootcamp graduates in the first six months of 2015 was greater than the number of graduates in all of 2014. After completing coding bootcamps, two-thirds of graduates on LinkedIn have new job functions.

In response to this growing popularity, Hack Reactor – which considers itself “the Harvard of coding bootcamps” – recently reorganized into a network of autonomous education companies owned by a new parent company, Hack Reactor Core. According to co-founder and CEO Anthony Phillips, the new structure enables “schools to grow and thrive” with access to Hack Reactor Core’s tools and expertise.

Hack Reactor Core differentiates itself with its philosophy of “data-driven education.” The company accepts about 3 percent of applicants and boasts a 99 percent job placement rate and median salary of $110,000 for graduates within 90 days of completing its program. According to Phillips, the company trains “more software engineers every year than Stanford University, UC Berkeley and California Institute of Technology combined.” Its seven schools operate in California, Illinois, Texas, and online and have varying emphases, from coding and CS fundamentals to JavaScript to increasing racial diversity in the technology workforce and programs for at-risk youth. Hack Reactor Core also created the U.S. prison system’s first coding training program and is working to expand its network of schools by providing the opportunity for entrepreneurs to open new schools in different cities.

At the time of its reorganization, Hack Reactor Core also acquired iOS bootcamp Mobile Makers Academy. The acquisition expands Hack Reactor Core’s current offerings, previously mainly 12-week software engineering programs, to include Mobile Makers Academy’s eight-week app development bootcamp.

Mobile Makers Academy CEO Jessi Chartier said, “Leveraging Hack Reactor Core for much of the business operations…allows us to focus on providing outstanding learning experiences, meeting great student outcomes and continuing to change the education space.”

Technology is constantly changing, and qualified professionals who understand these changes are in high demand. As one of the largest coding bootcamp companies, Hack Reactor Core is responding to this demand by growing its business and restructuring to fill a critical skills gap in a market that is constantly in flux. With a growing investment in coding bootcamps by industry and government leaders, this new sector is one that will be important to watch as technology continues to develop.

Training Industry will announce its inaugural Top 20 Coding Bootcamps list next month. If your company is a top coding bootcamp, apply here to be on the list.

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