back to article Web uni says it will get you a tech job or your money back. So our man Kieren signed up...

An online college focused on the tech industry is promising to find you a job in six months or it will refund your course fees in full. OpenClassrooms has also marked its launch in the United States today by offering to supply its basic courses for free to anyone caught up in the decision by the Trump administration to shut …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    product manager course

    Does it include the tedious meetings between all relative parties to discuss something for two hours that could have been resolved with a well constructed email?

    1. Mark 110

      Re: product manager course

      Product Manager is either a world of pain or the best thing you ever did. I have worked with a brilliant one - looked great - and a couple of average ones - looked dreadful. Its a job for the enthused.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: product manager course

      Don't forget the endless PowerPoint waffle that sends everyone to sleep so that no one can remember what was agreed.

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Re: product manager course

        PowerPoint? I spit on your PowerPoint and fart in it's general direction. Waffle is done in Jira comments nowadays. Product managers think that a Jira issue should be at least 10 A4 pages long in its description, full of screengrabs, XLS sheets, Word diagram, 20 page API documents and at the very end always a line saying "Can you complete this by tomorrow please?"

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: product manager course

      Not forgetting learning all of the latest buzzwords. Obviously nothing will get done if we aren't in sync on communicating our convergence on the action items.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: product manager course

        “Not forgetting learning all of the latest buzzwords. Obviously nothing will get done if we aren't in sync on communicating our convergence on the action items.”

        There’s no cloud-based internet of things blockchain, so it can’t be any good.

    4. Naselus

      Re: product manager course

      "Does it include the tedious meetings between all relative parties to discuss something for two hours that could have been resolved with a well constructed email?"

      The bigger question is, why would it include anything aside from that?

    5. veti Silver badge

      Re: product manager course

      If you've ever put in the time to write a "well constructed email", you should know (1) it can take considerably longer than two hours, and (2) no matter how "well constructed" you think it is, at least one-third of recipients will still misunderstand it.

      Given how much attention most people seem to pay to emails, I really can't fault any manager for calling meetings instead.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: product manager course

        Any resource can be misused. Its shooting the messenger to confuse undisciplined corporate usage with a poor medium.

  2. Alistair Silver badge


    Your need right now is an editorial course. Product or Project?

    (I'll assume an autocorrect misfire but I'm being generous)

    I'll have to see if its available to us Canucks -- I know a couple youngsters that would *love* to get certain things under their belts and would *never* do well in a formal College/University situation ....

    1. Captain Obvious

      You do realize....

      There is a huge difference between product and project - based on article, leans towards product manager as they have to evangelize the product. Would be hard for auto-correct to change project to product even with typos.

  3. DainB Bronze badge

    Shortage ?

    But with more than 600,000 unfilled tech jobs across America – something experts have warned represents a "chronic shortage"

    It's a chronic shortage of people who are ready to work for close to minimum wage, not a chronic shortage of skills. Quite a difference.

    1. Mark 110

      Re: Shortage ?

      Dos the US have a minimum wage? Not criticising. I just thought it was the poster child for the market and the lack of such socialist vagaries.

      1. dbtx Bronze badge

        Re: Shortage ?

        It's $8.10/hr. When I was a dumb kid it was 5.75 but everything cost a lot less... a typical candy bar was 0.50, now they're close to 1.00. I wonder if the gov is forcing inflation by raising that, or if prices just go up because they can get away with it. (okay, it's probably both)

        1. chivo243 Silver badge

          Re: Shortage ?

          My first minimum wage in the states was $2.65. I worked for 10 hours a day in a cornfield in the middle of July. Now I see some states or cities have a mandatory $15+ for flipping burgers.

          Time marches on...

        2. DougS Silver badge

          Not 8.10, its 7.25

          That's the US minimum wage, but many states or cities have raised theirs to as much as $15. Unfortunately the US is never smart enough to try to index it to cost of living or set it up for regular increases, so it tends to stay at one level for years until it is clearly far too low, then it is raised a lot over a short time (thus increasing the chances of doing the harm the detractors suggest it will)

          Like much in the US it is a contentious political battle, with republicans almost always against any increase, claiming it will cost jobs and cause some businesses to go under, and democrats almost always in favor of a big increase, claiming it will give an economic boost to the poor. In this case, they are both right.

          1. Naselus

            Re: Not 8.10, its 7.25

            "Unfortunately the US is never smart enough to try to index it to cost of living or set it up for regular increases so it tends to stay at one level for years until it is clearly far too low, then it is raised a lot over a short time"

            I suspect the reasons for this are more due to it only being possible to raise the minimum wage when the Democrats have a supermajority, tbh. Republicans won't raise it, will filibuster attempts to raise it, will veto efforts to raise it, and will scream blue murder at any attempt to set automatic increases.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not 8.10, its 7.25

            SOME states have $15ph min. A bit grim, but what's really scary to me is the us seems a nation with no plan B to driving.

            Any way you cut it, usa or not, reliable cars are expensive and risky.

            Running a car on $15ph sounds like going backwards to me. Loss of car seems like a downward spiral.

        3. dbtx Bronze badge

          Re: Shortage ?

          I saw a candy bar the other day that was only $0.50 but it was "100 Calories!" and about as big as my middle finger.

    2. Oh Homer

      Re: Shortage ?

      Nailed it.

      If this works, I predict the next generation of tech. workers will be roughly comparable to janitors, economically speaking. Actually, a lot of them already are.

      What next? Minimum-wage brain surgeons?

      Seriously, one day that will happen. We'll go from 5% earning minimum wage to 50%, then 80%, then eventually the only person earning anything at all will be the Emperor of Planet Earth, formerly the CEO of the "University" of, and the rest of us will be his minimum zero wage slaves.

      Well, look on the bright side: at least we'll all have bachelor's degrees. Lot of them, probably. They'll come on rolls like toilet paper.

      1. CanadianMacFan

        Re: Shortage ?

        I fully support minimum-wage brain surgeons if they are anything like Ben Carson (who ran in the Republican primaries in 2016 and is now the US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development). Actually with some of the things that he's said minimum-wage is too good.

        1. Alan_Peery

          Re: Shortage ?

          Ben Carson should go back to being a surgeon -- he was an asset there.

    3. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Shortage ?

      It's quite common for companies to not work on projects that they need done because they are unwilling to fund the projects to the required level. AKA the projects are not important enough, otherwise the funding would be found. So how much of the 600,000 are "I would like to hire another couple of techies but we'll do fine without" and how much are "I absolutely desperately need such-and-such skills and I'm willing to pay, but I really can't find anyone to fit the bill"?

      My gut feeling is it's probably around 599,000:1000 between the 2 scenarios.

      Of course it's also the case that companies want more and more technically skilled people because the simple volume would drive wages down through the usual supply-and-demand rules

    4. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge

      Re: Shortage ?

      You can count the number of tech jobs in the United States, but how could you count jobs that do not currently exist, such as "Secretary of the second personal Assistant to Mr. Kieren" or "President's tweet speech writer" or "Manager of the Antarctica division of the refrigerator business unit"?

      What you can count, however, is the number of IT specialists which currently are not needed by the industry. Or maybe you can take the total annual profit and divide it by the average tech salary to get the number of jobs that the sector could create if it were so inclined.

      A good measure would be the number of bugs and exploits that lie unfixed and undiscovered in today's software, a.k.a. the nation's Technical Debt.

  4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge
  5. anoco


    "The Premium Plus Customer resides, during the six (6) month period following the awarding of the Path diploma by the jury (the "Job Seeking Period"), in their country of residence and undertakes to relocate to accept a Job located anywhere within their country of residence (including any states or regions where applicable)"

    The US is quite a big and diverse country. I don't know if someone that lives in San Francisco, California would be willing to move to Montgomery, Alabama for an entry level position.

    This may be good for small town folks ready to move out, but definitely not for everyone.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mentoring/Peer Marking

    Honestly the peer-based marking system is pretty sane. I did CS at a top-5 UK uni as recently as 2009 and the overwhelming majority of submissions (of which there were many) were marked either by your immediate peers or effectively volunteer tutors from the year above. It works well and it has benefits for both parties. Work gets marked promptly, the process is easily monitored and the marker gets to refine their own understanding in an attempt to rationalise their decisions both to the person being assessed and the person doing the monitoring.

    This sounds like a pretty rational approach. I just hope it doesn't get drowned out by the sheer mass of absolute dross "fellowships" and "nanodegrees" that are flooding the market.

    1. Alan Johnson

      Re: Mentoring/Peer Marking

      'Honestly the peer-based marking system is pretty sane'

      It makes sense as long as the mark does not contribute to the overall result. In this case it is an invitation for abuse.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mentoring/Peer Marking

      Good point "the marker gets to refine their own understanding in an attempt to rationalise their decisions both to the person being assessed and the person doing the monitoring."

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    or it will refund your course fees in full

    I BET there's a tiny-weenie star missing from that statement*

    * will refund your course fees up to the full value

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: or it will refund your course fees in full

      It's really just a trick.

      A high proportion of graduates can get jobs within a year, especially tech graduates, so in effect it's a low risk money back offer.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A lot of students dropped out of the database course because they got triggered first.

  9. Tim Jenkins

    "...a good percentage of the population is not suited to programming..."

    Damn right. I know I'm not. Proved it in many, many failed attempts. Fortunately there are lots of other IT-related roles which I AM good at, and I've been doing those for 30 years. Now my kids are being told they have to 'do coding' at all costs, by politicians who haven't a clue what that even means. I'd far rather they, and 99% of their fellow teens, were educated to become at least barely adequate technology USERS, and leave the 1% who actually have the brain type necessary to program WELL to get on with it in relative peace.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: "...a good percentage of the population is not suited to programming..."

      Damn right.

      I could write any program someone wanted (if it was a program that could be written). Pretty much, I could write it in any language (those esoteric non-traditional ones would be a real struggle but I'd pick them up). I can't guarantee a timescale at all, but I'd be able to do it. I've programmed in everything from BASIC to x86 assembler, Pascal, FORTRAN. C. Java, hand-crafted Z80 opcodes electronically zapped direct into a memory chip. I've ported software between platforms, ripped-out-and-re-done entire codebases, patched my own code onto the Linux kernel and other people's projects, and been doing it all for years. I sat through years of courses on coding theory, compiler design, etc.

      But for sure, I'm not a coder. Doing it professionally? Pfft. No thanks.

      I'm sure I could write any program I needed, and I'm often really frustrated by the tools I'm forced to use and know they could be made better. In some cases I've actually done just that, where it was an option. But coding is a skill that is rare indeed.

      Instead I work IT management in schools. Let me tell you, thousands and thousands of children from a range of abilities and ages have passed through my systems. I help out in coding clubs and we build and fly drones and all sorts of things. Independent (private) or state, primary or secondary, etc. Would you like to know how many of them there are that I believe could, one day, go on to be a full-time software developer? Maybe one or two. How many could knock up a quick script or program or even a complex macro in their adult years, or become a hobbyist programmer, without having to literally be taught how to do so from scratch? Probably a few dozen. Maybe slightly more.

      As a percentage, we're really talking less than 1% for most of these things. Which is right. Less than 1% of them will become aeronautical engineers, or explosives experts, or forensic scientists. But for some reason people assume that "everyone can code if you just teach them". That's true right up to a point. And that point is where "computing" (using a computer) becomes "computer science" (understanding how they work). That's where almost everyone who uses a computer gets stuck. In the same way that we can't all be car mechanics, we can't all be programmers. We all need to use the tool, we don't all need to understand every intricate detail of it.

      We've lost sight of that, though. Especially in education. Programming is really something that you either have a knack for (I would say I do) or not. You can nurture an existing natural predilection to being able to think like a programmer, but you can't instill it if it's not there.

      The other day, I glanced out of the corner of my eye at some code a 9-year-old had written in Python (which is pretty cool, don't get me wrong, but if it's just taught by rote it tends to be forgotten REALLY quickly). My brain picked up on four syntax errors, a couple of potential integer range situations, several comparison errors, mis-typed and mis-scoped variables, and all kinds of other things. I didn't even need to analyse line-by-line. I don't even program in Python. My brain did it without my intervention.

      I'm not sure that's something you can teach that easily, and certainly it's not something possessed by many of the teaching staff, including those in ICT. In 20 years of working in schools, I've met three teachers that I think could write a program. One a Maths teacher, one a former COBOL programmer of old, and one who worked in industrial control before going into teaching. The ICT teachers get most aggrieved if I mention that. But they absolutely cannot program (they might be able to TEACH it, but they can't do it - that's quite common in all subjects of teaching). I mean... it's not unfair - I couldn't teach kids, even the simplest of things. That's why we have the jobs that we have. But people who can code, even in the IT industry as a whole, are few and far between.

      1. msroadkill

        Re: "...a good percentage of the population is not suited to programming..."

        Then I presume you could devise a test for schoolchildren, which could identify those with the innate gift of which you speak?

        Surely; we, the kid and his family are better for knowing early that this path is an option to be nurtured?

    2. Jay 2

      Re: "...a good percentage of the population is not suited to programming..."

      Once upon a time I thought I was a good programmer (on BASIC/COMAL), until I got to University and then had to learn a new language (Modula-2) and the concepts that went with it. And whilst I was getting to grips with that we also had to dabble in Ada, Lisp, C and some other stuff. My problem was that I couldn't adapt the concepts to the language spec easily.

      Fortunately I got a lucky break along the way and became a sys admin. I do quite a lot of coding in shell scripts and little bits of Python/Perl where needs be, but would never consider myself to be a proper programmer.

      When it comes to the more technical doing stuff bits in IT (be it hardware or software), I find that people generally have a knack and are interested or they aren't.

  10. The Indomitable Gall

    Degree equivalence...?

    So if the company is considered equivalent to a degree in France, why didn't they just go the whole hog and become accredited as a private university, then just issue their degrees worldwide as a distance learning institution?

    1. milonz

      Re: Degree equivalence...?

      As a matter of fact, OpenClassrooms will never deliver official degrees in France.

      France's higher educational ecosystem is pretty weird (has a lot of flaws, but also a lot of qualities), which cannot be summarized in a few words.

      In France, you have the "Grandes Ecoles" (the Great Schools), which are for the elites, by the elites. They are utterly selective and teach top-notch courses. However, they do behave like Mafia (co-option, nomination & politics) despite being public schools, and they do have overly generalist curriculums : a "Grandes Ecoles" graduate is expected to know everything and have pleasant conversations at the Ambassador's dinner parties ;-)

      Albert Jacquard, one of the XXth century greatest scientists, has said that Polytechnique (the greatest french Great School) selects the most conformist students, the ones that are the most dangerous for the country, for the key positions (a first-hand experience, he was himself a polytechnician).

      In France, an official engineer is as much a job as a very high social status, so they are very few and they are viewed as an elite.

      Then, you've got the public universities, somewhat underfunded, and still too generalist. French university graduates make good professors, researchers and scholars, but poor company workers.

      Because they don't have the "feet on the ground" approach, nor the specific professionnal qualifications companies ask for, especially in the CompSci field (lack of funds, a curriculum "lag", and a pretty high population). Still, they are pretty smart and have a great general culture, so some do succeed.

      There stops the list of the "official" degrees, which require to have a very broad core knowledge (an american engineer will be considered as a trained monkey / imbecile by any french engineer, as an example).

      But there is also a lot of unofficial private engineer's schools, especially in the CompSci, which degrees are unrecognised by the national educational system. These schools exist because they don't want to fit the national program, and are very often more specialised and much more oriented towards a corporate career. One great example can be the EPITA school, which students are very sought after by private companies.

      So in France, you don't really have a public-private schools cohabitation, but a real schism between two conceptions of what education should be. Two different approaches, one which seeks to train scholars and one which seeks to train professionnals.

      Therefore, a school like OpenClassrooms can have excellent courses, but the degrees are considered unofficial as a scholarship, as they are professionnal trainings. However, most companies will recognise them as "good enough" and will gladly hire graduates, as long as OpenClassrooms has a good reputation and their curriculums stays aligned with what they require.

      PS : i may sound like partial, it's because i've myself graduated from a french private engineer's school, and i've never been interested by the Great Schools or public university curriculums (i've even had 2 boooooring years at the public uni')

  11. hatti

    six months to 100k

    Think of all the sec vulns

  12. Doctor Huh?

    But the premise is pure horseshite

    "The problem at the moment is not even qualifications," Dubuc said. "It's the number of people. The current [US education] system is producing 100 to 200 people every couple of years but the market wants hundreds or thousands of them." He claimed 96 per cent of tech companies say they are struggling to grow because of a lack of tech talent.

    I'm calling BS. MIT alone is going to produce on the order of 300-600 computer science SB degree-holders each year. Sure it would be a waste to have them doing JavaScript front ends, so perhaps they are overqualified for the jobs the education organizations are training people for, but the figures quoted in the article are off by at least 2 orders of magnitude.

    I gripe, because every year US tech firms play games about how hard it is to find qualified people, when the real problem is finding qualified US-based people willing to work for the wages paid in Manilla, Bangalore, or Riga. Allowing anyone to claim there is a shortage of qualified CS graduates without justifying such a bold statement simply plays into the hands of the greedy.

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: But the premise is pure horseshite


      And companies really don't need CS Degree graduates to fill most positions.

      I could train a high school leaver to do most of what the average SA does vis-a-vis server builds in our shop. Ditto SAN admin.

      The CS degrees are needed for those positions involving tech solution architecture of course. My school leaver could gain that CS degree, perhaps with substantial financial aid, in a work-release program tied to the position.

      They would be working their way from an entry-level wage scheme to very nice indeed and thanks for the education too over a few years, becoming along the way a valued employee who knows the business we do and is trained in the tech we use and need rather than an expensive retraining exercise for the first three months followed by endless "you don't know what you're doing" in some cases - requiring cutting losses and starting again.

      Of course, that is so 1960s thinking.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But the premise is pure horseshite

        "Of course, that is so 1960s thinking."

        These days we call them Degree Apprenticeships. You'd be pleasantly surprised how many there are and how effective they've been.

        1. TVU

          Re: But the premise is pure horseshite

          "These days we call them Degree Apprenticeships. You'd be pleasantly surprised how many there are and how effective they've been"

          I think they are a very good idea and I'd like to see more of these degree apprenticeships especially is areas where there are skills shortages.

  13. JeffyPoooh Silver badge



    Dear Kieren,

    We saw your column in El Reg. Congratulations on your employment as a professional writer. We've marked you down as 'employed'. Another success story, after only one day of classes. Amazing.

    Relieved and dollars ahead,

    Guaranteed Employment Office

    The University

  14. rav

    "...what is the value of an OpenClassrooms "degree" in the US job market?"

    As an American who has worked for 28 years in Architecture, Engineering and Construction I can easily state that online degrees have ZERO CREDIBILITY. And ZERO VALUE. Hiring managers simply will not take the risk.

    A firm may hire a CAD drafter who was trained online but only for very basic work such as redlines and revisions. The depth of knowledge just can not be acquired online that is acquired in a traditional classroom setting that promotes interaction between peers and professors.

    Online learning is in fact trying to make an autodidact of every student which is of course absurd.

    A Professional Degree can not be awarded for online learning.

    Would you want to live in a house designed by an Online Engineer? Or have your appendix removed by an online Doctor?

    Online learning creates an a new layer of education that is trying to find a role someplace between a High School Diploma and a two year Associates degree.

    One thing though is for certain. When education is "FOR PROFIT" can it really be called education?

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