Bridging Education and Work: New Models for 'Skilling Up'

Bridging Education and Work: New Models for 'Skilling Up'

EdSurge Guide

In today’s knowledge economy, people expect change over the course of their careers. More than 90 percent of millennials plan to stay in their jobs less than three years. They’ll spiral between work and learning, sometimes blurring the lines between both. As they continue to build foundational knowledge throughout their lifetimes, they’ll add job-specific skills along the way, getting a certificate in data analytics one year and sprinkling in some coding classes the next.

This reality is unfolding thanks to a mismatch between the skills employees have and those that employers seek. The so-called “skills gap” is driving high wages for in-demand tech jobs like data scientist, programmer and engineer. It’s also the force behind a booming market for nontraditional education providers, including MOOCs, bootcamps and corporate training programs. Students are flocking to these programs to “skill up” in pursuit of lucrative jobs.

But will these new models of learning help more adults achieve the quality of life they want? Or will they drive inequalities between those who can afford to shell out for one-off learning experiences and those who can’t risk leaving their current position?

We’re intrigued by the emerging ecosystem of providers, which include universities, community colleges, intensive bootcamps and part-time training programs. In this guide, you’ll hear stories from students, new jobs-focused education providers, traditional higher-ed institutions and accreditation experts, all navigating different "skill-up" options.

In theory, the growing number of options to access learning will give students of all ages more opportunities to develop the skills they need for rewarding careers. But are these emerging models of accelerated learning just a flash-in-the-pan solution to quickly fill in-demand jobs? Or will they lead to systemic change that will create stronger ties between students’ professional and educational journeys? Read these stories and tell us what you think.

The Growing 'Skill-Up' Economy

In these articles, we explore emerging options for people who want to build skills. We'll hear from students who want to boost their technical savvy in pursuit of better jobs, companies that are addressing hiring challenges and new skills-training providers that have cropped up to meet demand.

New Partnerships for Skills-Training Providers

Traditional higher-ed institutions, companies and accelerated learning providers are working together to help students build skills. We’ll highlight some of these new models of collaboration and take an in-depth look at the forces and policies making them possible. 

Evaluating Outcomes

Now that we've identified the key players, we'll ask questions about measuring the success of these skill-building programs. Colleges and universities have historically tied program quality to the accreditation system, but emerging "skill-up" models are evaluated on student outcomes, which can be difficult to compare across industries, competencies and providers. 

Frameworks and Examples

The skill-up economy exists at the intersection of education and career paths. As people pursue high-tech jobs, knowledge and skill-building must occur intentionally and continuously. Universities and companies have tried to bridge the gap, and recently many new skill-up providers, including bootcamps, have sprung up smooth the transitions between learning and career opportunities.  

To help you make sense of these murky waters, we've included just a few examples of the thousands of programs out there at universities, skill-up providers and even within companies. 

Postsecondary Models for Skill-Seeking Students

Postsecondary institutions are developing additional programming that focuses on a specific skill or industry. Programs range from credit- or degree-granting options to less formal skill-building courses, which typically offer certificates of completion.

 Type Program Description Cost
UC Berkeley M.S. in Data Science: a 1-2-year, online or in-person program offered in partnership with 2U

Georgia Tech M.S. in Computer Science: a 3-year, entirely MOOC-based program, with courses hosted on Udacity's platform
$7,000 or $510 per course
Degree University of Illinois Master's of Computer Science in Data Science: a 1-year, MOOC-based program, with courses hosted on Coursera $19,200
Credit Arizona State University Global Freshman Academy: a collection of ASU college-introductory courses that last 7.5 weeks (with the exception of a self-paced math course), hosted online through edX $49 per course to earn a certificate, free to audit
Certificate + Credit Rutgers University Mini-MBA: Social Media Marketing: a 1-week, in-person course designed for professionals developing social media strategies $5,000
Certificate Level: an 8-week full-time or 20-week part-time data analytics bootcamp at Northeastern University, in-person and hybrid online/in-person in multiple cities
RightSkill: 90-day online courses from Capella Education in skills like web development and information security Less than $1,000 per course; job-placement money-back guarantee 

Bootcamps and More Tech-Skills Providers

Skill-up opportunities are programs created for the sole purpose of meeting the needs of high-tech skill-seekers. They include rigorous bootcamps and less-intense options that focus on specific competencies or personal development. 

TypeProgram DescriptionCost
Career Immersive (Bootcamp)
Galvanize's Data Science Course: a 12-week, in-person program that trains students to work as data scientists, focusing on statistical analytics using Python and SQL

Career Immersive (Bootcamp)
HackReactor's Software Career Accelerator: a 12-week, in-person program that trains students to become full-stack engineers and “expert” JavaScript programmers$19,780

Career Immersive (Bootcamp)
Hackbright Academy's Software Engineering Fellowship: a 12-week programming immersive that trains students to become entry-level software engineers. It's open only to women, aiming to increase diversity in the tech sector.
Skill-Building ProgramSalesforce's Trailhead: a series of self-paced online training modules, projects and suggested pathways for those seeking to improve their Salesforce administration and/or developer skillsFree
Skill-Building ProgramProgramming Basics: a self-paced introduction to object-oriented programming offered by the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay on the edX platformFree or $49 to earn a certificate
Skill-Building ProgramIDEO U: a 5-week, self-paced series of courses from global design firm IDEO in areas including design thinking, storytelling and leadership development$400 per course
Skill-Building ProgramGeneral Assembly's SQL Workshop: a one-day workshop in advanced SQL topics, designed for people looking to build on prior SQL experience$200

High-Tech Companies Keeping Up

While many companies train their employees to do their current jobs, some are preparing them for future work. Companies are incorporating e-learning opportunities, with many new programs incorporated as part of HR platforms.

 Type Program Description Cost
Internal Training Programs In 2005, Kaiser Permanente launched a skill-building program designed to help current employees advance their careers. Programming includes mentorship, as well as 79 courses. More than 2,000 employees are currently enrolled.
Free for employees
External Partnerships BetterUp provides general performance coaching for employees at different companies. Each employee is matched with a performance coach and video coaching sessions are paired with tailored videos, podcasts and exercises.
External Partnerships
Udacity offers Udacity for Business, a series of online courses in high-demand tech skills including Android development. Companies including Google, GE and AT&T, use it to train employees. Courses range from 1-3 months or 6-12 months for a nanodegree in areas such as data analytics or product management.
$199 per month
External Partnerships Workday, an HR data management platform, createD Workday Learning, a series of online courses that teach people how to use its proprietary HR platform. 
Not yet announced. Courses are set to be released in 2016

Salesforce and Supported Research

This research on the “skill-up” economy was supported by Salesforce. EdSurge retains sole editorial control and responsibility for the content in this guide. All stories, opinions, beliefs and findings published in this guide were generated independently by EdSurge.