From education to employment

Tech-charged education will equip the UK’s workforce for the jobs of tomorrow

Oliver Beach, Director of Partnerships, UK and Europe, Emeritus

For the last decade, I have spent my working life seeking to empower people through education, from the frontlines with Teach First to becoming part of the UK EdTech community. I’m on a mission to eradicate the affordability barriers that exist for the untapped tech talent in the UK and to improve access to education. The next exciting stage of my journey is with Emeritus, which is transforming careers by making high-quality adult education effective, accessible and affordable. 

So how has adult education not been effective to date? Training has historically been inaccessible and expensive, with challenges including passive learning, low course completion and high prices that reserved learning for the few. In the past, we were essentially given a choice. Either enroll on an in-person course that’s expensive and exclusive, or sign up for an online course and sit through endless videos. With a workforce unable to access flexible and agile skills training, it’s no surprise that the UK skills gap isn’t getting any narrower.

Given that half of all employees will require upskilling by 2025, we need a dramatic shift in access to skills training to help unlock the potential of the UK workforce. Addressing this central problem of access will provide the skills our workforce needs for the jobs of tomorrow.  

There is a better way with cohort-based online learning. What inspired me to join Emeritus was its pioneering of the ‘small private online courses’ model, designed to succeed where other models have failed. Designed in collaboration with world-class universities such as the University of Cambridge and Harvard, these courses are distinguished by a cohort-based learning model, personal engagement between faculty and students, course customisation and mentoring. Cohort-based courses, instead of the more traditional approach, allow for deeper learning, greater accountability between students, and that enhanced interaction then allows for a more productive, engaged and innovative workforce. 

Offering more than 2,500 professional learning courses that roughly take 40 hours to complete over 10 weeks, our programmes also have a completion rate of 90%. This compares to a mere 1 in 3 for traditional online courses. A tech-driven cohort-based learning model such as this can deliver world class skills training at a huge scale, combining the access and affordability of the internet with the structure and support of a classroom. 

The flexible nature means that they can be deployed by businesses of all sizes to upskill and empower their employees in future-facing topics such as data science, digital transformation and product innovation. For example, we recently announced a Sustainability Leadership Executive Education programme with Imperial College Business School, which launches in February 2022 and will equip business leaders and decision-makers with the necessary skills, knowledge and capabilities to help their organisations meet global climate change goals and to get us all to net zero. 

Emeritus’ core mission – committed to making adult education effective, accessible and affordable – is a game-changer. Both in the reach that we can continue to have, having so far delivered a world-class education to over 250,000 learners in 80 countries around the world, and in the impact that we can have on peoples’ careers, livelihoods, and economic opportunity. 

I’ve spent the last decade trying to empower people at different stages in their lives with education, from the classroom to the boardroom, and working with the people around me now, I’m excited to accomplish just that with Emeritus and the massive opportunity that this UK launch represents, unlocking the potential of the UK’s workforce while helping solve the skills gap.  

Oliver Beach, Director of Partnerships, UK and Europe, Emeritus

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