CNBC Disruptor 50

Governor Cuomo offers free online skills training for unemployed New Yorkers

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Key Points
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday the launch of a new partnership with the online learning platform Coursera that will provide no-cost training to unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers.
  • The new tool will provide access to nearly 4,000 Coursera programs.
  • It will focus on in-demand sectors like advanced manufacturing, technology, and health care, among others.  
New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on September 08, 2020 in New York City.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday the launch of a new partnership with the online learning platform Coursera that will provide no-cost training to unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers.

According to a press release issued by Cuomo's office, the platform will provide access to nearly 4,000 Coursera programs, with a focus on advanced manufacturing, technology, and health care, among other industries in need of high-skilled talent.  

"This new training platform will be key in this effort by ensuring unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers are not left behind by providing access to the resources and training they need to get back on their feet," Cuomo said, in the press release.

The state says it will also partner with New York-based businesses to encourage their employees to build additional skills.

Since the launch of the Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative, more than 1 million workers have enrolled in over 7 million courses to gain critical skills for jobs of the future.
Coursera

During the pandemic, Coursera — which ranked No. 4 on the 2020 CNBC Disruptor 50 list — has partnered with more than 330 government agencies across 70 countries and 30 U.S. states and cities as part of the Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative.

"New York has taken a new approach to workforce development and it aims to help New Yorkers acquire the skills they need for the jobs of the future," said Leah Belsky, Coursera's chief enterprise officer at CNBC's virtual Disruptor 50 Summit on Wednesday, who noted the company saw a 450% increase in traffic to its site since the pandemic began.

During the Covid period, when so many people are financially strapped and see the shift to remote work, they are keen on upskilling. "We see a focus on shorter-term learning in ways that can advance their careers," Belsky said. "There is now laser focus among consumers on how any degree can help them get a better job."

Rachel Carlson, co-founder and CEO of Guild Education — which ranked No. 45 on the 2020 CNBC Disruptor 50 list — sees the same trend. "What's needed by more than half of the American workforce is a pathway to getting a fulfilling middle-class career," she said at the Disruptor 50 Summit. "More employers are recognizing this, and they are offering full-time employees and furloughed employees access to online skills training and education. Many like Walmart, Discover Financial and Chipotle are paying for this education for their workers through Guild Education. It's a way for them to retain and recruit talent."

The transformation in higher education is profound. "Americans are redefining the value of the traditional liberal arts degree. In the future, I believe there will be more modular learning where you can tack on technical skills," Carlson said.

According to Belsky, "There will also be more shared resources among universities and colleges where they share faculty through online offerings-- especially internationally in markets where there is not enough access to education."

She also believes that after the pandemic the majority of students will not just go back on campus. "Instead, you will see a blended approach — a percentage of courses will be given online, others will be offline," Belsy said. "There will be more pressure on universities to provide relevant job skills."

CORRECTION: This article had been updated to include additional source attribution.

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