Bitmaker Labs Programming College Shut Down After Globe and Mail Article

College FailA week or two ago I caught an article in the Globe and Mail, a national newspaper here in Canada, that covered a small programming college that was claiming to be cranking out their first intake of students in the near future. The goal of Bitmaker Labs was to take ordinary people, with no programming background, and training them to the level of industry ready junior web developers in 9 weeks. Being that I am a veteran in this space, I found that claim hard to believe. Sure you could teach someone some web programming syntax, but the experience level is just not there in 9 weeks. At least to the point of being a junior developer for a company.

The Smackdown by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU)

After the newspaper went public, the MTCU came in and apparently shut down the organization and put them under investigation for operating an unregistered private career college (according to the notice now posted on their website). I have to say that I am glad that this happened and credit the MTCU with doing the right thing. Not because of some technicality such as operating an unregistered college, but because they are protecting the programming industry from yet another example of barely skilled people cracking into the software development industry without the proper amount of training.

Surely if the organizers of this college had gone through the proper channels, and registered their college, they might have had their program scrutinized a bit more… especially since they were charging around $9k CAD. The MTCU would have probably ordered that this college actually flesh out their program into a longer course and put in place proper teaching techniques that would have amounted to better qualified developers graduating.

The Students Are the Ones Who Lose

Apparently the “college” had an intake already progressing through the first 9 week program (24 students at $9k each… do the math). I sure hope these students get most, if not all, of their money back in this disaster. They are the losers in all this. For their efforts they will have a partially finished, uncertified, course that costed them $9k. With that kind of money they could have gotten some professional training for certified instructors and come out with something that is a bit more solid. Probably not to the level of even a junior developer for the industry, but certainly students who are on their way.

Coding Academies Are Legal in the US, But Should They Be?

In the US these types of colleges are legal. There are groups like Codecademy.com who operate freely there and don’t cost nearly as much as Bitmaker Labs was asking. We have to ask ourselves though if such coding academies are good for industry. As mentioned in some of my previous articles, I have the view that unregulated code teaching, with no real industry standards or regulation put behind it, opens the software development market open to the possible flood of people looking to get into the industry without enough knowledge. This will perhaps creating students who are skilled enough to be dangerous. For example, they might have learned about the basics of SQL but would you let them near your companies financial database? One wrong query and you are either spending the night replacing from backups or up $%#* creek without a paddle. We all make mistakes but those who have spent a bit more time in the training process will understand not only the syntax but more about the process as to WHY something is done.

What do you think? Do you think someone could be made industry ready in web development in as little as 9 weeks? Would you pay upwards of $9k to an organization that has no official certifications and has not been vetted by any 3rd party group to make sure they are teaching the proper information? Let us know what you think in the comments below. 🙂

About The Author

Martyr2 is the founder of the Coders Lexicon and author of the new ebooks "The Programmers Idea Book" and "Diagnosing the Problem" . He has been a programmer for over 20 years. He works for a hot application development company in Vancouver Canada which service some of the biggest tech companies in the world. He has won numerous awards for his mentoring in software development and contributes regularly to several communities around the web. He is an expert in numerous languages including .NET, PHP, C/C++, Java and more.