Adult learners elevate careers with online courses

When adult professionals need more education to advance their careers, they have a few options.

Pearson will develop online courses related to careers in information technology, project management, and healthcare.

They could enroll in an expensive, and timely, four year program or at a two year community college. They could take a certified massive open online course (MOOC) related to their careers, like Coursera’s Signature Track courses.

Then there’s another choice, one that rests somewhere between the other options – a choice that’s being increasingly backed by one of education’s most prominent publishers.

Pearson Learning, over the past year, has announced its support of a handful of adult learning facilities, institutions designed around self-paced courses that would help adults prepare for post-secondary programs or acquire the knowledge to complete national certification exams.

The most recent of these partnerships is with the Denver Learning Institute.

Through the arrangement, Pearson will develop and host online courses related to careers in information technology, business, project management, and healthcare.

“These courses are predominantly for students with a little more experience,” said Tom Darling, National Director of Workforce Education at Pearson. “These are not the traditional 18-year-old college student. They are more often between 30 and 50 years old.”

See Page 2 for details on how the program will pull data from thousands of job openings to determine the courses it will offer.

As online learning becomes increasingly prevalent, more and more companies are turning to them to help their employees earn the right credentials they need for their careers.

Companies like Google, WalMart, and AT&T have partnered with online course providers with this goal in mind.

A study released in June by the Brookings Institution found that half of jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math fields may require certification or training but not a bachelor’s degree.

The types of courses Pearson and the Institute are offering will be determined by real-time labor market data from a company called Burning Glass.

Named for the massive convex lenses that focus the rays of the sun onto a small area, Burning Glass analyzes job postings from more than 25,000 websites.

Using this data, Pearson and the Denver Learning Institute can determine what courses, training, and certifications are most in demand at any given time.

Right now, that means jobs in network security and product management. IT jobs account for 27 percent of managerial openings this year, according to the CareerBuilding 2013 Forecast.

But that could always change by next year, and using Burning Glass, Darling said, takes the guesswork out of helping adult learners get a leg up in their careers.

“This is not based on projections or statistics,” he said. “The selection of courses carries more validity. It’s based on actual job postings and what employers are actually seeking.”

Follow Jake New on Twitter at @eCN_Jake.

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