Digital survey puts skills claims to test

People who have completed digital skills training are being invited to take part in research that gauges its effectiveness.

CodingSurvey

Graduates of so-called coding boot camps and skills accelerator courses are being asked to share their experiences during and after training.

The Who’s Coding survey by the Universities of Edinburgh and Warwick – the first study of its kind in the UK – will analyse the outcomes of all kinds of commercially run courses.

Researchers want to know if participants’ expectations have been met – be it in software engineering, web development, data science or any other specialism.

Varied questions

Volunteers will be asked to assess the quality of instruction, say how courses affected their job prospects and express how they felt about their training.

Their responses will help the team to assess the benefits and drawbacks of private digital skills courses – and discern who benefits most, and why.

Lead researcher Dr Kate Miltner, of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research in Digital Education says many private digital skills academies make impressive promises.

These claims are often about what intensive, short-term coding education can do for both individuals and the digital industry as a whole

Dr Miltner says the survey is needed because these schools-some of which receive Government funding-have become a key part of the UK’s digital strategy.

The study will provide much-needed insight into who enrols on these courses, what it is like to attend one, and what happens to students once they leave

Dr Kate MiltnerCentre for Research in Digital Education

Covid recovery

That need, says Dr Miltner, has intensified in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, where upskilling individuals is seen as crucial for economic recovery.

Dr Miltner says: “Many providers claim they are helping to address the ‘digital skills gap’, democratising access to the digital industries and offering a ‘pathway to prosperity’ for marginalised groups.

“Aside from media anecdotes and self-reports from the coding schools themselves, there is very little data to support these claims on a broad scale.”

The project is funded by the European Research Council and the Data-Driven Innovation initiative, which supports partnerships between researchers and industry. Funding will run until November 2022.

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