Dr Kate Miltner
Who’s coding? Investigating UK coding course experiences and outcomes
Digital skills initiatives, which include coding clubs, coding bootcamps, and digital skills academies, offer training courses in a variety of digital skills, including computer programming, data science, user experience and interface (UX/UI) design, product management, and more. In recent years, digital skills initiatives have become an important part of the UK’s digital strategy; they have been positioned as a valuable source of skills training and central to inclusion efforts within the UK digital sector. However, for adult learners, there is remarkably little data on the digital skills industry and its outcomes, and very little is known about the experiences of students who attend these programmes.
This study addresses this significant knowledge gap, providing an in-depth examination of the experiences of, and outcomes for, adults who have attended private (non-University run) digital skills courses across the UK. The project has three key aims: 1.) Provide a rigorous analysis of student experiences and outcomes within UK digital skills initiatives with a view to understanding the factors that impact student success; 2.) Deepen our understanding of the structural barriers to inclusion within UK digital skills initiatives and the UK digital sector labour market more broadly; 3.) Translate this research into actionable insights for partner organisations and the UK digital skills industry.
This multi-methods project uses survey, ethnographic, and interview methodologies to gain much-needed information about this increasingly prevalent mode of skill acquisition, investigating what is it like to attend a private digital skills course in the UK and what happens to students once they leave, with a particular focus on the role of social location and issues of inclusion and belonging. More specifically, this project will ascertain the size and demographic characteristics of the coding school graduate population, key factors that motivate students to enroll in their courses, employment outcomes for graduates, the impact of certain pedagogical approaches, and the extent to which the promises and expectations established by coding schools and the broader coding discourse are met for graduates.
On the whole, this project will provide understanding around the benefits and drawbacks of private digital skills courses, who they benefit the most, and why.
This TRAIN@Ed project has received funding from the DDI initiative, the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-curie grant agreement No 801215.