With Election Day approaching, you have probably been bombarded with an endless number of campaign Ads on TV. Or maybe your social media feed has been blanketed with politicians promising one thing or another. Amidst the numerous critical issues facing our elected leaders and our country, one topic that should be taking center stage in our political conversations is regarding the future competitiveness of the American workforce.

 

As someone who is about to graduate college, and who also has many friends pursuing different career pathways, this topic is especially relevant to me.

 

Just a few years ago, earning a college degree was widely perceived as one of the main avenues to success. Between 1965 and 2016, college attendance in public and private universities increased by 240 percent. Recently, however, enrollment for both public and private colleges has plateaued and future projections suggest this trend will continue.

 

With the cost of a college degree skyrocketing, students who would otherwise normally seek a college diploma are increasingly exploring other higher education alternatives. Given that student loan debt owed today totals around $1.5 TRILLION, that’s not surprising.

 

So, while more students are beginning to shun the idea of being saddled with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt for degrees in subjects like Greek philosophy, many people are increasingly looking for alternative options when it comes to higher education.

 

Coding bootcamps, which are short-term courses that teach computer coding to students, are popping up around the country and are pioneering a new model in the education space.

 

DevCodeCamp, which is a coding bootcamp based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for example, has built a successful and intriguing model for people who are interested in receiving the necessary training in computer programing.

 

Unlike the traditional education model, many coding bootcamps, like devCodeCamp, take only a few weeks for students to complete and are affordable. Furthermore, these bootcamps are leading graduates to good-paying jobs. On average, students coming out of devCodeCamp are securing jobs paying around $50,000 a year or more.

 

Even traditional colleges across America are refusing to ignore the coding bootcamp trend that is being led by schools like devCodeCamp. In fact, many 4-year universities are choosing to team up with coding schools. One example of this can be seen in California, where Dominican University of California has partnered with Make School, a San Francisco based coding bootcamp, to offer computer science courses at Dominican.

 

Our society must follow the lead of schools like Dominican University and recognize that more and more people are seeking new, non-traditional education opportunities, such as coding bootcamps, like devCodeCamp and Make School, for a reason – to hone skills that will better prepare them for employment in the New Economy – skills that many 4-year higher education institutions are not currently offering.

 

Regardless of where you land on the political spectrum, the future of the American workforce and whether or not our economy remains strong and competitive throughout the globe will depend on policymakers recognizing the important trends that are currently taking place in America, such as the coding bootcamp revolution that is underway.

 

Like many people who have taken the traditional higher education route, I am proud of my college experience. With that said, who knows – maybe I will still go to a coding bootcamp myself.

 

Katlyn Batts is the Chairwoman of the Wingate University College Republicans and an employee of the Jesse Helms Center.