Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Business

How MOOCs can help fill your employee training gap

Is your workforce equipped with the skills and knowledge it needs to remain competitive and grow? If not, think MOOCs.

Massive Open Online Courses offer an opportunity to train workers across a variety of skills, and can They can also help workers keep up with ever-evolving technology.

Half of today's jobs won't exist in 2030, says Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, a MOOC nonprofit founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "What's more, the remainder of the jobs left will either change completely or be different in some way."

He says growing businesses in particular will be tasked with the challenge of how to empower their existing workforce to upskill and reskill to meet the changing demands of their jobs.

Here's how MOOCs can help companies address their knowledge gap and help employees develop their skills.

Keeping up with innovation

The typical MOOC is a college-level course offered online to anyone who wants to enroll. Some are free to viewers who only watch the course. Others charge those who want to complete a full course and earn a certificate.

MOOCs can be a cost-effective, efficient way to bridge employee training gaps. They're particularly useful for widespread workforces, smaller companies with limited time and budget for training as well as companies whose employees need to stay current as technology evolves.

Steve Halligan, chief operating officer of N2grate, a 30-employee company that provides data center and cloud solutions to federal agencies, uses Cybrary to keep employees up-to-date on technical and cybersecurity innovations.

"We've been using MOOCs for years," he says. "In a world in which no one can be an expert in all things, the ability to use ongoing, flexible content to sharpen the skill development saw has been a key piece for us."

Helping reduce costs

As MOOCs can also help reduce recruitment and employee relocation costs.

"There is an arbitrage to assess when recruiting talent versus growing it in-house. Since online programs do not require massive internal resources to produce, update and roll out, there is a clear benefit in terms of cost and time for growing businesses," Agarwal says.

There may also be an income-side boost gained from online learning, he adds: "According to Bersin & Associates, revenue generated per employee is 26 percent higher for companies that offer training using technology, including digital learning."

MOOCs as benefits

Particularly for today's often restless millennials, MOOCs can signal a commitment to employee development.

"As we think about the younger generation of employees, employee development is something they really care about," says Julia Stiglitz, vice president at Coursera, which has 2,000 courses and 180 specializations taught by instructors from 149 university partners.

Among its most popular offerings are information technology and project management courses, business classes that mimic the first year of a typical MBA program and specialized programs in hospitality and advanced manufacturing.

Stiglitz sees larger businesses using MOOCs in ways that could work for growing businesses. For example, when BNY Mellon onboards web developers, it has them complete Coursera's full stack web development specialization from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Once they complete the six-course series, employees share a common set of skills and language, she says.

Filling skill gaps

Even in a hot tech area like Silicon Valley, some jobs remain hard to fill and keep filled in areas like data science, mobile development or web development. Sometimes, there simply aren't enough qualified candidates around. These skill gaps often occur with "new" skills like artificial intelligence or cloud computing — all covered by MOOCs.

MOOCs can also be an efficient way for employees to gain soft skills. Agarwal says companies use edX's MicroMasters program to help new leaders gain specialized management skills without sending them to multiyear, on-campus MBA programs.

MOOCs can be of use to everyone — including senior leaders. After all, why should staffers be the only ones learning something new?

© 2016 — Monster Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. You may not copy, reproduce or distribute this article without the prior written permission of Monster Worldwide. This article first appeared on Monster.com. To see other career-related articles, visit career-advice.monster.com. For recruitment articles, visit hiring.monster.com/hr/hr-best-practices.aspx.

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