The new initiative kicks off this week with a range of government agencies and not-for-profit organizations signed up, including the Institute for Veterans & Military Families (IVMF) and Coastal Counties Workforce in the U.S. But the scope of the program extends far beyond the U.S. and into Egypt, Mongolia, Singapore, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan.
Those signed up to the platform can access tailored programs built specifically for the requirements of their market, including digital manufacturing, business English, and data science. There are some notable education partners on board, too — including the University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University — which makes it possible for organizations to give their employees access to university-level courses and certifications, while analytics allow managers and learners to track their progress.
The underlying problem that many online education platforms are trying to capitalize on is the growing skills gap, particularly as robots and automation are expected to result in 5 million lost jobs within the next three years. So people need to gain the tools to prepare for the rising digital labor market.
“The skills gap can no longer be ignored as a major force driving world events,” said Coursera CEO Rick Levin. “Millions of people lack the skills needed for new and better jobs, and increasing automation will only widen the gap. Governments and nonprofits focused on workforce development are eager to work with us and our university partners to deliver skills education to populations at unprecedented scale.”
Founded out of Mountain View, California in 2012, Coursera partners with educational institutions to serve more than 20 million online students a range of courses across business, technology, science, and other disciplines. With around $150 million in VC investment, Coursera is one of many MOOCs — massive open online courses — to emerge in recent years . Other players in the space include Udemy, which raised a $60 million round last year, and the likes of Duolingo and Udacity, which are also going from strength to strength.
Today’s news comes less than five months after Coursera introduced a new business-focused program to tap the billion-dollar corporate elearning market.