Written by: Jeanne Meister, Future Workplace

As Thomas Friedman, wrote in Come The Revolution, a New York Times column summing up the disruption of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) on higher education, “Big breakthroughs happen when what is suddenly possible meets what is desperately necessary.” The disruption Friedman focused on was how MOOC’s will impact higher education.

As a business leader concerned with upskilling your workforce, I think you will agree that was just the beginning of the revolution. Today, an increasing number of companies are leveraging cloud-based learning platforms as the new way to design and deliver online learning.

With its acquisition by Boston-based private equity group Devonshire Investors, NovoEd will grow its collaborative learning platform targeting the career lifelong learner.

Since its inception in 2013, NovoEd has been providing online collaborative learning for working adults.

“When we laid out our digital learning strategy at PerkinElmer, we made a deliberate decision to prioritize a superior learning, content authoring, and course facilitation experience,” comments Jennifer Sullivan, Chief Learning Officer ofPerkinElmer and NovoEd client. “I believe the power of the learner-centric experience created at PerkinElmer is the integration of social and collaborative features like threaded discussion, mentoring capabilities, and leaderboards which have been key in building our employees’ skills and capabilities. This is NovoEd’s sweet spot in course design and will grow in importance as more working adult broaden their skills by learning online.”

As the half-life of skills is falling rapidly and more companies are building a career growth culture, companies are increasing their investment in learning & development.

Training Industry estimates the training spend in North America for 2017 approaches $160 billion and this crosses into the $300 billion marketplace for college degrees, professional development, and secondary education around the world.

Added to this, companies are upskilling due to the growing impact of artificial intelligence, which is impacting all jobs not just the ones with routine tasks. This is leading CEOs to place workforce development on their agenda. In fact, according to the PwC 21st Century survey of CEOs, five years ago 58% of CEOs said they were concerned that a lack of critical skills was threatening their business.

Today 80% of CEOs say a lack of critical skills is a risk for their companies.

While some companies focus on job obsolescence due to automation, others see the need to re-train workers for new jobs being created in the future workplace. In fact, Gartner predicts artificial intelligence will create more jobs than it’s expected to eliminate. Just think back to 2014 when LinkedIn published top ten jobs that had not existed five years ago, jobs such as social media manager, Big Data Architect, User Experience Designer, and Android Developer. Glassdoor published their own list in 2017 of 15 jobs that did not exist five years ago, which now includes AI Chatbot Copywriter, Tele-Medicine Physician, and Cloud Architect. All of these new job roles require companies to make investments in training and development. Increasingly this investment is in short online courses culminating in a certificate and digital badge.

Ed Miller, CEO of NovoEd sees this from the perspective of his corporate clients, Kraft Heinz, Clorox, and Comcast. Says Miller, “As we enter the next Industrial Revolution, with some jobs being automated and entire new job categories being created, CEOs expect their employees to build new skills in areas needed for the future workplace. These include both technical and human skills in areas such as cloud architecture and data science as well as innovation, design thinking, collaborative team building, and learning how to learn. We have found that while many of these skills were once developed in face to face classrooms, they can now be delivered at scale and with greater impact in a collaborative learning platform, like NovoEd’s.”

As the corporate learning marketplace keeps pace with the speed of business, we will continue to see an increasing need for companies to upskill their workforce. NovoEd is poised to benefit from this by offering a consumer type learning experience that is social, scalable, and aligned to the skills needed to thrive in the future. With CEOs putting the ability to attract, develop, and retain talent on their agenda, we will see more businesses and employees focused on learning new skills for the future of work.

Jeanne Meister is Founding Partner of Future Workplace, an HR Advisory and Research firm working with heads of HR, Talent and Corporate Learning to prepare them for the future of learning and working. Future Workplace is a partner of NovoEd in the design of the five-week online course, Using AI 4 HR To Enhance the Employee Experience.