Giving Compass' Take:

• Francis Larson explains that Modern Labor pays students to learn to code so that individual who can't afford to take time from work to further their education. 

• Is this a scalable solution? How can funders help to expand this model? 

• Find out why many free education programs fail to make an impact


Meet the Y-Combinator backed startup, Modern Labor. Modern Labor is a revolutionary educational platform that will pay you $2000 a month for five months to become a full-stack developer. Once you have completed the five month curriculum, Modern Labor will also help you find a job.

Most of us can’t take five months off work or from family obligations to immerse ourselves in learning how to code for the modern workforce. Modern Labor removes the financial constraints that prevent many talented individuals from spending the necessary time needed to learn a high-value skill and better their lives.

According to PayScale, in 2019 the the salary of an entry-level front-end developer is $91,476. Many tech companies and traditional companies becoming tech companies have a major shortage of full-stack developers. This creates an amazing opportunity for the current workforce.

Francis Larson: I’ve been very interested in how people take risk for a long time. One of the biggest risks people take in their lives is their investment decision in school and training. People are often (justifiably) nervous to spend a lot of money on something that might not pan out.

When I founded our former company, Leif, I realized that you could get more people to do training if you removed some upfront investment risk by making school “free” and instead taking a percentage of income as payment. It turned out a lot of schools had this basic insight, so we gave them the technology and financing arrangements to offer it.

Everyone said the same thing: when they made their program “free” and payments based on income, enrollments shot way up and marketing costs went way down. The students love it.

But “free” isn’t good enough for the vast majority of people. Most people either don’t have a lot of savings to live a long time without income or they would simply rather work for money. It’s very hard to get people to start–let alone finish–training. There is this phenomenon with high school dropouts and college dropouts. The completion rate for college is pretty dismal and in some areas high school dropout rates are high too.

Read the full interview with Francis Larson about paying students to learn to code by Grant Trahantat Causeartist.