Challenge 4: Horizon

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Our education platform is inspired by the abundance of “digital economy jobs” available and the dearth of people who are qualified to fill them. We’ve chosen to focus on coal miners because they face the threat of automation.

The Trigger
We partner with coal mines to distribute our product. As part of their severance package, coal mines provide users with a free three-month subscription to our product. The first three months of unemployment are presumably the months when coal miners are most motivated to retrain themselves. We believe the timing of our offering will pay a role in its success.

Following the three-month subscription, we charge our users a nominal fee. Our hope is that the fear of an upcoming fee will also motivate our users to engage in sustained learning for the first three months of unemployment.

The Skills Our Platform Teaches
Our education platform teaches coal miners to leverage existing technology applications to help small businesses grow.

We decided to focus on the digital based skills because they’re in high-demand. We did not, however, include computer programming in our curriculum. These include fluency in Squarespace, Wordpress, Google/Facebook Analytics, Google AdWords, etc.

Figuring out what to Take
Right after users create their online accounts on our platform, they’re given a diagnostic quiz. The quiz helps them decide which digital skills they’ll enjoy learning, and it’ll provide three recommendations. Next to the recommendations, the users will see the average salary of a digital expert in a particular job.

Connecting Users with Jobs
Each course that’s offered on our platform is either produced or vetted by an employer. The employer(s) that vetted the course has guaranteed to interview the top 25 percent of users who complete it. This provides additional incentives to perform well and guarantees that the educational experience is tied to financial outcomes.

The Benefit to Employers
Job training for employers is an expensive task. At the interview stage, when employers interview potential employees who do not have the exact hard skills required to do the job, employers have no idea how to judge the aptitude of an employee’s ability to learn on the job. 

Our platform solves for this problem. Instead of requiring employees to learn hard skills on the job, we ensure that employees learn hard skills before they apply to the job. This de-risks the hiring process for employers.

Employers train employees for their jobs before—not after—the hiring process. Along with being less risky for employers, this is less expensive, since employees are not on their employers’ payroll while they’re still learning.

Upon hiring through a connection made in-app, employers can also specify certain courses to take between the hiring of the employee and the beginning of their employment. Such specification can allow the employer to choose the candidate they most desire even if that person does not have the complete set of skills the position requires, knowing our platform can help fill in that gap.

Platform Content
Software-as-a-Service products like Squarespace and Salesforce are incentivized to produce content for our platform because they make money through subscription sales to small businesses. The more employees trained to use these products, the more likely small businesses are to subscribe to them and implement them.

Peer Pressure
Each course has a quiz every two weeks. The courses start in batches, and everyone who is in a user’s batch comes from the same company that laid off the user. Since the users all know each other, they’ll push each other to succeed through positive peer pressure.

Additional sources:
http://www.computerworld.com/article/3136675/it-careers/robotics-driverless-tech-are-taking-over-mining-jobs.html

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