St. Pete coding school, The Iron Yard, says it has a 98% job placement rate globally

Labor Dept: Web, tech jobs to grow 17% by 2026
Posted at 3:35 PM, Aug 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-18 17:19:09-04

CORRECTION: The Iron Yard school officials say they misspoke, their job placement rate in Tampa is 98% and they have more than a 90% job placement rate across the U.S., varying per market.


There's a ping-pong table, cozy kitchen and relaxing couches.

In an exposed brick building in downtown St. Petersburg, students are taking part in an intensive, 12-week boot camp at The Iron Yard.

They're learning to write computer code and building apps.

"I didn't make it in the workforce," said Alan Kebert, while laughing.

The 30-year-old graduated from college with a degree in computer science. He told ABC Action News when he tried getting a job in the industry, employers told him he simply did not have the hands-on experience they were looking for in a candidate.

"I didn't really have a good portfolio," Kebert said.

Kebert said he walked out of college with theoretical knowledge and a degree that shows he was competent. He also had debt. He found himself working at his parent's business at times. Then, he became an Uber driver.

It's why he is back to school--just not in the typical way.

He is among 20 students in the intensive program.

"All companies are realizing the need for developers and talent is absolutely essential," said Toni Warren, The Iron Works campus director.

Warren's statement is backed up by demand.

According to, the gap between web developers job postings and hires is 46,000 nationally.  Additionally, The Department of Labor projects a 17 percent increase in the number of web developer jobs in the next 10 years.

Warren points to the recent 800 jobs postings for developers opening in the past 90 days right here in Tampa Bay.  She added 225 of those positions are entry level or for junior developers.

"There is a huge talent gap," she said.

While The Iron Yard is licensed, it is not accredited. They also don't want to be accredited, pointing to the fast-changing tech world and their ability to make immediate changes to their curriculum to keep up.

You won't walk out with a degree or certificate in exchange for the $12,000 tuition.  You will, however, walk out with an app you have built yourself and portfolio you can show potential employers.

"We have a 98 percent global job placement rate, that is for our 22 campuses nationwide," Warren said.

ABC Action News cannot check the accuracy of that number because the school is not accredited.

This is just one reason some skepticism is surrounding this new education model and their ability to replace a four-year degree.

According to a recent Google study regarding the efficacy of coding camps, the company reports while camps show promise, most graduates need more training.

Google has hired employees out of camps, including New York-based Flatiron.

Tampa-based digital strategist and tech recruiter Mitch Neff says while a bachelor's degree shows competency and maybe some prestige, hands-on experience is what employers are looking for in candidates.

"If you are going down that path you are always going to have a job, you will always be in-demand," Neff said.

Kebert is banking on just that.

"That's the entire reason I am here, to get a job in the field," he said.

ABC Action News reached out to local colleges and universities to find out their job placement rate for computer engineering and computer science graduates. We did not immediately hear back from St. Pete College, USF or UT.