• The Job
  • Posts
  • Short-Term Skills Training

Short-Term Skills Training

Chegg hopes its skills bootcamps for corporate workers help the company’s big AI pivot.

An online tutoring company’s AI pivot includes its small but growing skills bootcamps for major employers. Also, a temperature check with Google cert earners, how Texas colleges are preparing for AI, and colleges’ scramble to keep up with a changing rural workforce.

Chegg’s Bootcamp AI Push

Last year was rough for Chegg, as ChatGPT took a big bite out of its core online tutoring business. But the ed-tech company is retooling around AI and has seen growth with its skills bootcamps as companies try to bulk up their workers’ tech capabilities, particularly related to artificial intelligence.

The importance of skills-based training has never been more critical,” Dan Rosensweig, Chegg’s president and CEO, said during a recent earnings call.

About five years ago, Chegg acquired Thinkful, a skills-based online learning platform. The bootcamp provider, now called Chegg Skills, offers flexible and short-term skills training to companies in how to apply AI to cybersecurity, data analytics, web design, and customer service, among other areas. It also features more traditional programs in those fields and others, such as financial analysis, sales, and frontline leadership.

The bootcamps remain a small part of the publicly traded Chegg’s business, accounting for roughly $24M of its total net revenue of $716M last year (according to calculations based on corporate filings and an earnings call). But Rosensweig said Chegg Skills was up 55% in 2023. Its employee skilling programs and career hiring services have been used by companies in retail, tech, banking, and quick-serve restaurants, with corporate clients ranging from Target to Honeywell and Accenture.

Large retail banking firms have been a particularly strong fit, says Colin Coggins, senior vice president and general manager of Chegg Skills.

“As brick-and-mortar banks increasingly become more like fintech companies, they need skilled frontline and corporate talent,” he says. “Beyond the need to upskill managers internally, they also require new capabilities in data analytics, software development, cybersecurity, and AI.”

Chegg touts ROI numbers showing that its skills training improves employee retention for companies, while also helping graduates get a pay bump.

“We are helping these firms essentially future-proof their own workforce,” Coggins says.

Most students who enroll in the programs are early-career workers. Many are 28 to 35 years old, some with college degrees, others without. A couple of the programs can lead to college credits through recommendations from the American Council on Education. Coggins says students typically use Chegg Skills courses to advance in their current employment or to reskill in a new tech-focused field. 

In addition to new skills-training courses in AI, Chegg is expanding its “durable skills” offerings for workers who seek to advance into manager-level roles. “These skills have a longer shelf life,” says Coggins, “and become even more critical with increased AI and automation.”

For the past two years, Chegg Skills has been an option for employers who work with Guild on education benefit programs. The bootcamps offer one-on-one mentoring and learner support for more than 20 skills certificate programs through this partnership, including language learning with the recently acquired Busuu.

Coggins says AI is at the core of everything Chegg does as the company reinvents itself. Chegg has invested heavily in R&D and AI capabilities and had 250 employees working on AI as of last month.

For Chegg Skills, Rosensweig says the tech has enabled a roughly 40% reduction in how long it takes to create new skills-training programs.

The company last year rolled out its “AI conversational learning companion” for students that it developed with GPT-4 and trained on proprietary data and curricula. Chegg also combines personalized data for each student with wider information on what they are studying and what’s needed for careers, with a goal of recommending additional skills and certificates.

The Kicker: “AI is one of the biggest technological shifts of this century and will have an incalculable impact on skills,” says Coggins.

CollegeAPP partners with hundreds of colleges and universities to identify adults in their recruiting area who have Intent to Enroll in education or training. The person-level data powers efficient and effective marketing to prospective adult learners.

Connect with us to find the adults who should receive your marketing and outreach.

Layering Skills with Google Certs

Google Career Certificates remain the highest profile of the growing number of online professional certificates from Big Tech companies.

The corporate giants have different approaches and goals with their short-term training, a form of credential that’s getting more interest from students and employers. Some, like certifications offered by AWS and Salesforce, are focused on training people to use tools from those companies.

Google’s move, however, isn’t about the company’s products, or making money. The low-cost Career Certificates are developed and offered by Grow with Google, a charitable arm of the company that says it seeks to help people get the skills they need to find a job. That strategy includes an experiment to maximize Google’s investment with no-interest loans.

The company also is increasingly working with colleges and universities to embed its certificates in degree programs—with a blending of academic and industry expertise.

Some experts say they’re glad Google is active in the skills-training space. But Google certs have detractors, including those who question their value in the job market.

The company shared the latest numbers from the program:

  • More than 250K people in the U.S. have earned a certificate, with roughly 75% reporting a positive career impact, such as a new job, higher pay, or a promotion, within six months of completion. 

  • Over 50% of graduates identify as Asian, Black, or Latino.

  • To help connect graduates to jobs, the program includes an employer consortium of over 150 companies, including Google itself.

We tracked down six people who’ve earned Google Career Certificates to get a sense of what attracted them and how the training worked out. For five of those we interviewed, the program was about layering skills on top of their work experience and, for some, what they learned in college.

An exception was Taz Mohammed, who earned a Google IT support certificate in 2018 as a participant in Year Up, a nonprofit that provides well-regarded sectoral training. Google is ramping up its partnership with Year Up and Merit America, another nonprofit training provider.  

Mohammed now works as a corporate operations engineer for Google. That career boost—working at one of the world’s most attractive brands—is hardly normal. But the other certificate holders also said they had gotten something out of the training.

Travis Tester, for example, used a data analytics cert to help get his foot in the door for a career in IT. After years of serious hustling, Tester’s annual pay now tops $100K, and he has great benefits. For some people, he says, racking up skills with professional certificates can be a better bet than pursuing a master’s degree.

“That’s how I broke in,” says Tester. “The name of Google has a lot of power.”

Click over to Work Shift to read the six profiles.

Open Tabs

Low-Wage Jobs
Among occupations that require a nondegree credential, 35% typically do not pay more than the median wage for jobs that require a high school diploma, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute’s Molly M. Scott. Most jobs (80%) that do not pay a premium for more education are in healthcare, education, and social services. Sector-based policy solutions should include addressing licensing requirements and degree inflation in hiring.

Good Jobs Collaborative
Workforce development policy’s neoliberal tenets include an emphasis on markets over governments and a dismissal of structural imbalances in power between workers and businesses, writes New America’s Mary Alice McCarthy. New America and 13 other groups this week launched the Good Jobs Collaborative, a nonpartisan policy coalition focused on economic justice, racial and gender equity, and putting the needs of workers first.

In-Demand Careers
A new Colorado scholarship will offer onetime grants of $1,500 to more than 14K high school students who graduate this year. Recipients can use the money for Colorado-based college, apprenticeship, and job-training programs. The scholarship includes an emphasis on connecting graduates to in-demand careers in fields like advanced manufacturing, IT, education, and health professions. Colorado also rolled out a career exploration website.

Statewide Strategy
California’s new Jobs First Council will focus on creating jobs and awarding $182M in grants to accelerate economic and workforce projects. The council will tap state agencies to develop a statewide industrial strategy. In connection with California’s emerging master plan for career education, the council will highlight ways workforce development should meet industry needs and help Californians, particularly in the state’s most disinvested areas.

‘Not Harvard’
Two-year college students must balance civic engagement with real-world responsibilities, writes Lane Glenn, president of Northern Essex Community College in Massachusetts. “Community colleges and our students reflect the full range of political identities in the communities we serve and have largely avoided the high-profile conflagrations occupying the time, attention, and resources of elite campuses,” Glenn writes.

AI and Software Engineering
Demand for AI research scientists and machine learning software engineers is booming while the number of job openings for every other type of software engineer has slowed down, according to an analysis by Henley Wing Chiu for Bloomberry.com. Competition also remains stiff for the still relatively few job openings for machine learning engineers. However, overall tech job openings are basically on par with pre-pandemic levels.

Apprenticeships and AI
Registered apprenticeships can help identify which occupations could benefit from AI, in part because the combination of on-the-job training with academic learning enables apprenticeships to adapt to changing market conditions, writes the Urban Institute’s Bhavani Arabandi. Likewise, because these are paid alternatives to four-year degree programs, workers who are at risk of being displaced by AI can be retrained and retained via apprenticeships.

Job Moves
Darren Person is the new executive vice president and chief digital officer at the Cengage Group, a publishing and ed-tech company. Person previously served in a similar role at Circana, a global data analytics company.

John Barnshaw has been appointed managing director of STRATA9, a social impact management consulting firm. Barnshaw previously was a vice president at Lightcast and at Ad Astra.

Charlotte Lysohir has moved into the role of director of strategic and impact partnerships at Guild, the education-benefits company. She previously was the company’s director of executive insights and worked at IBM before Guild.

Thanks for reading. Let me know what I missed? —Paul Fain