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Hack Reactor hosted the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s monthly roundtable on Wednesday, September 24, focused on the large and growing importance of the tech sector in San Francisco’s economy. Business leaders representing a wide range of sectors, including education, real estate, fashion, banking and software development came to Hack Reactor for this meeting of the minds. Attendees ranged from burgeoning startups to large, well known companies like Mass Mutual, United Way and Cengage Learning. The event highlighted the growing gap between the needs of the economy and what traditional education is able to provide.
The roundtable started with a talk by Hack Reactor’s CEO Tony Phillips, who described his progression from an educator in Korea to a Software Engineer. Phillips was struck by how he was able to shift career tracks with the proper training, with no formal schooling in programming.
“I couldn’t believe you could switch careers without going back to school,” Phillips explained, “and then I thought, wait a minute, there are more people like me.”
The realization that there are thousands of people in San Francisco alone looking to start or accelerate a career as a Software Engineer was the germ that started Hack Reactor, and is equally relevant today.
“No matter the business here, whether it’s Wells Fargo or a small independent company, you can’t grow your company without talent,” notes Bob Linscheid, President and CEO of the SF Chamber of Commerce.
The gap between the available talent in the tech sector and the demands of the industry is substantial and increasing quickly.
“The number of software engineering jobs is just going to be astronomical by 2020,” Phillips stated, while also making clear that the supply of able Software Engineers is not growing nearly fast enough to meet the demand.
A big reason for this is that the traditional four-year university model was not designed with the modern job market in mind. Nor is the traditional model particularly outcome-focused.
Hack Reactor takes a different approach:
“It’s all about following the data,” said Phillips. “We apply a data driven model to education and how we teach. Our admissions process is very data driven.”
An essential result of Hack Reactor’s critical analysis of education is the immersive nature of our program: students don’t just learn about coding, they swim in the logic and practice of coding 80 hours a week for three months.
“You might start placing more credibility on what [job applicants] can do, rather than the degrees they have,” Phillips advised the other business leaders. “You might consider having them go through a program like this if they are building software for you.”
As the quality and cost effectiveness of programs like Hack Reactor becomes more and more evident, companies looking to hire Software Engineers will look more and more to the schools that consistently produce the best, most dynamic programmers.