There's no question America has a skills gap. According to a January study by the Career Advisory Board in which 501 U.S. hiring managers were polled, only 11 percent of employers say they believe higher education is "very effective" in preparing college graduates to meet the skills that organizations require. Sixty-two percent said students were underprepared.
Now a range of start-ups are trying to help train the next generation of workers, transforming education from a onetime event into a lifelong process. Two Disruptor 50 companies are leading the charge: Coursera and Udacity.
"Many jobs requiring middle- or high-level skills go vacant, even while many people are unemployed or underemployed," says Rick Levin, CEO of online education company Coursera, which has raised $146 million from venture backers. "We think there's a real opportunity [for Coursera] by giving people the opportunity to acquire new and better skills in computer-related fields, in data science and across the range of business skills and even soft skills."