Search site matches students with online courses

SkilledUp helps students sift through hundreds of online course options.

With a little help from low-cost online courses and tutorials, Nick Gidwani watched two interns go from making $8 an hour to snagging six-figure jobs.

Gidwani, who launched a new site called on Aug. 21, said free and fee-based web-based classes that help employees show expertise in their field have long been undervalued by young people competing for jobs in the country’s slumping economy. SkilledUp, he said, would help workers find the proper online training with a no-hassle web search.

SkilledUp has 115 online education options available in its search engine – a number expected to grow by 10 every day in the coming weeks, including courses from Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) sites like Udacity and Coursera.

SkilledUp will also include little known, high quality web-based classes that charge about $30 a month, but aren’t immediately visible in a casual Google search. The website has positioned itself as a search engine for workers who see education as a means to a higher paycheck.

“If education doesn’t have [return on investment], it probably doesn’t deserve to be called education,” Gidwani said. “There are so many kids out there earning seven bucks an hour who can have a decent life in a short period of time. … And this is one way to achieve that.”

Earning an online credential or badge – showing an employer that you’ve mastered certain skills – can be the difference between working for near minimum wage right out of college, and earning a decent living, Gidwani said.

Even at companies run by people who aren’t familiar with online credential-based classes, completing a course can separate an applicant from the field.

“If someone is young and they took the initiative to learn something themselves, and it’s a skill that I value, that’s a key differentiator,” Gidwani said. “If someone has a badge, that is a shortcut for me to decide the person knows what they’re doing.”

With thousands of free and low-cost courses available, employees – including recent college graduates – have had a tough time finding online courses worth taking. Narrowing legitimate options, Gidwani said, is the only way to ensure students aren’t wasting their time or money on credential-based online classes.

In his earlier private sector work, Gidwani said two interns he hired at $12 an hour took a series of programming and marketing courses and cashed in with high-paying jobs just months later.

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