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Sunday, April 12, 2015

LinkedIn, and the Skills You’ll Need for Your Next Job

Skills are a big business these days. LinkedIn ’s decision to buy online training platform for about $1.5 billion makes that point with an exclamation mark.
With employers lamenting that they can’t find enough people with high-demand digital skills, and workers increasingly expected to develop skills on their own rather than through the workplace, it’s a busy time the field of web-based training. Recent entrants include GrovoUdemy, and Wranx, and most offer classes to individuals but make the bulk of their revenue through partnerships with corporate customers.
It’s not yet clear how LinkedIn will integrate’s thousands of courses, but in ablog post Thursday, Ryan Roslansky, LinkedIn’s head of global content products, suggested that the network will try to match users with courses that fill gaps in their skill sets.
Imagine being a job seeker and being able to instantly know what skills are needed for the available jobs in a desired city, like Denver, and then to be prompted to take the relevant and accredited course to help you acquire this skill. Or doing a search on SlideShare to learn about integrated marketing and then to be prompted with a course on the same subject.
One very open question is how much value employers and recruiters will place in badges and certifications— gives certificates of completion to individuals who finish most of its courses—from purveyors of online training.
Such credentials “can serve as some level of market signaling that a candidate has at least some level of understanding,” of a topic, or at least has passed a test about it, said Richard Fye, the head of people operations for New York-based software company Fino Consulting. But “it really depends on whether the course is something that’s really of quality and depth,” he said, although he added that it helps to have some outside validation of a course’s rigor.
At Fino, Fye says an employee is currently learning Hadoop, a software framework used for processing big data. She took an online course, purchased a textbook, and studied for a proctored exam—which she failed. The woman, who has a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University, was disappointed, but Fye said her results were valuable for him as a recruiter and human-resources manager.
“This is a serious exam, and if you pass it, you’re demonstrating a high level of expertise,” he said. As recruiters grow more familiar with online training tools, he said, they’ll be able to better interpret those signals on candidates’ resumes.
The field of online learning got a credibility boost last month when the White House launched an initiative called TechHire, designed “to empower Americans with the skills they need, through universities and community colleges but also nontraditional approaches like ‘coding boot camps,’ and high-quality online courses that can rapidly train workers for a well-paying job,” according to the official TechHire page.
The White House is partnering with a number of online training providers, including EdX, a non-profit group founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that will offer some free certificates in two computer-science courses. Udacity, an online education company, will provide 5,000 scholarships for “nanodegrees” in areas like data analysis and web development.

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