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Executives from LinkedIn, Alphabet's Google, Facebook and other big tech companies are partnering with a private university to help train people in the skills needed to land new high-paid jobs in the digital economy, and plug a shortfall in qualified workers felt well beyond Silicon Valley.
ISDI Digital University counts Gary Briggs, Facebook's chief marketing officer, Greg Petroff, Google's managing director for online and cloud, and Steve Cadigan, LinkedIn's former VP of talent, among its faculty and board members.
Graduates of the program — which covers things like developing a user interface, social media, search engines and cyber law — receive a Master's Degree of Internet Business. This comes at a time when U.S. technology firms — which have and hastening automation — face increasing pressure to .
"Our position is going to be to open the eyes of what career possibilities there are going to be in the digital world," cofounder Cadigan told CNBC.
Each module is taught by an expert in the field who will in turn pull in other experts from their companies to help teach the curriculum, says CEO Amir Mashkoori. For example, Facebook's Briggs will teach a social media module and Google's Petroff will teach courses on design and user interface.
"When someone learns how to do a website, they are learning it from someone who builds websites all day long, when someone learns how to do a Google AdWords campaign, they are learning from someone at Google," Mashkoori told CNBC. "You're learning what's happening out in the world today."
While working at LinkedIn, which has since been acquired by Microsoft, Cadigan found that business leaders shared the same problem in trying to find workers qualified to drive digital growth in areas like e-commerce and digital marketing, he said. He was also repeatedly approached for career advice by people feeling left behind by the digital economy, he said.
"We couldn't find anything in the U.S. that was addressing this very, very acute problem," he said. "People are freaking out, it's the right thing to do, this is going to make a difference."
Enrollment in the 9 month program is not cheap — it costs $27,500 — but students can begin to recoup their investment fast because the course is shorter than most master's programs, said Mashkoori.
The first classes will take place at the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce starting in mid-March. ISDI is approved by California's Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education to run and offer a Master's Degree, a step towards becoming an accredited university.
ISDI launched a similar program in 2009 in Spain, which has trained and graduated more than 1,000 students.