Springboard, an education technology startup that provides training courses for people looking for in-demand technical roles, has raised $11 million in a “post series A” round of funding led by Reach Capital, with participation from Pearson Ventures, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Costanoa Ventures, Learn Capital, and Blue Fog Capital.
The San Francisco-based company also announced a partnership with Microsoft to train thousands of students for data analytics roles in the coming years. This represents the latest in a line of tie-ups between technology companies and massive open online course (MOOC) platforms that are designed to plug the talent gap across the technology and digital industries.
Founded in 2013 originally as SlideRule before rebranding two years later, Springboard is one of a number of online education companies that deliver flexible courses designed to help students retrain for jobs that are in high demand — this includes machine learning, data science, software engineering, UI/UX design, and its recently launched data analytics career track. Each six-month course requires a commitment of up to 20 hours per week, which includes mentorship and technical guidance, and costs between $4,000 and $6,000, which can be paid up front or in monthly installments.
In its six-year history, Springboard said that it has trained some 14,000 students, some of whom have gone on to work for Microsoft, Facebook, Boeing, and Visa.
Prior to now, Springboard had raised around $11 million, and with another $11 million in the bank it said that it plans to expand into new subject areas and geographies.
Big tech talent
The data analytics career track was designed in conjunction with Microsoft and Springboard, and plans are afoot to train 5,000 students for analytics jobs over the next three years. The curriculum promises to go beyond technical skills and cover areas such as problem-solving, communication, and strategic thinking.
Next year, Microsoft and Springboard intend to expand their partnership to include additional technical subject areas.
“Microsoft and Springboard share the mission of ensuring students are prepared for the workplace of tomorrow, so this partnership is a natural fit,” noted Microsoft executive VP of marketing and operations Jean-Philippe Courtois. “Our new data analytics career track, developed in partnership with Springboard, is a powerful example of the ways we are working together to help equip the workforce of the future with the necessary skills to succeed in the digital economy.”
The much-discussed tech talent shortage spans just about every vertical, from AI through to cybersecurity, which is why all the major technology companies have been investing resources in training the next generation of their workforce. Google has previously partnered with the likes of Coursera, an online learning platform that recently raised $103 million to prepare the workforce for the so-called “fourth industrial revolution.”
Earlier this year, Microsoft also teamed up with OpenClassrooms to recruit and train 1,000 AI students.
With U.S. student loan debt soaring way past the trillion-dollar mark, one of Springboard’s core selling points is that it provides targeted training for specific skills at a fraction of the cost of traditional higher education. The company also provides guaranteed jobs after graduation, and promises to reimburse student fees if they can’t find a job within six months.
“In the age of on-demand everything, every individual should have the opportunity to achieve their full career potential, without the heavy burden of student loan debt,” added Springboard CEO and cofounder Gautam Tambay. “Our model reliably enables career transitions for our students, while serving the needs of the industry. “