With more than 830 million members in 200 countries and territories, LinkedIn’s data about the jobs that its members occupy are as current as the frequency by which its members update their profiles. With its acquisition of Lynda.com in 2015, LinkedIn Learning offers more than 16,000 business, design, and tech online courses. As a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft, LinkedIn disclosed $11.5 billion in revenues in 2021. The combination of the number of its platform users, the data acquired from those users, the revenues and profits generated from its platform, and the courses offered by LinkedIn Learning make LinkedIn a formidable competitor in the micro-credential field.
A recent LinkedIn Learning blog post provides an excellent example of how their platform operates. I found the post, Learn Top Skills to Help You Future Proof Your Career, through a Google search.
The first paragraph of the article establishes LinkedIn as an expert by citing its data showing that job skill sets have changed by 25 percent since 2015 and are expected to change by 41 percent by 2025. LinkedIn breaks the data into two sets: soft skills and hard skills and notes that these 20 skills were listed in 78 percent of jobs posted on LinkedIn in the last three months (between May 1 and July 31, 2022).
Soft skills are just as important as hard skills according to LinkedIn. Perhaps because they are broader skills, only six soft skills are listed in the top 20 skills. These six are:
- Problem Solving
- Time Management
Naturally, each of these categories is linked to a LinkedIn Learning course. Even better, these courses are available for free until September 30, 2022. Of the six soft skills, LinkedIn claims that communications are listed in 45 percent of all job postings.
Hard skills are the job specific skills that LinkedIn claims are used to determine whether an employer will call someone in for an interview. These are the hard skills that showed up the most on LinkedIn profiles.
- Customer Service
- Business Development
- Digital Marketing
- Sales Management
- Social Media
- Sales & Marketing
- Financial Analysis
- Social Media Marketing
Again, LinkedIn Learning has a link to a course that it offers for each of these skills and the courses are available for free until September 30, 2022. I checked out the social media marketing course and noted that it’s too short to offer a micro-credential for completion, but provides enough information to lead an interested person to other courses offered on the topic including those providing certificates. The instructor, Martin Waxman, states that he has a course on social media marketing that he updates every two weeks. I doubt that LinkedIn Learning charges a fee for any of these courses linked to in the article but uses them as “teasers” to lead someone to take a longer course for which they charge a fee.
The article continues to provide additional data from LinkedIn’s user platform by providing a list of the top 10 skills for marketing professionals and how they have changed since 2015. The lists are in the chart below.
Notably, while some of the skills from 2015’s list are still in the top 10 today, five new ones have surfaced, and others have changed places in the rankings. LinkedIn Learning suggests that the readers assess their skill sets and again offers free courses to future-proof their careers.
Compare these skills and the short and longer courses offered on the LinkedIn Learning platform to courses and programs offered at a traditional university. I’m confident that there are few university courses that are updated every two weeks as mentioned by the social media marketing instructor for LinkedIn Learning. I won’t hazard a guess as to the average review cycle for degree programs at colleges and universities but note that the shortest regular review period that I am familiar with is every three years. If it takes a student four years (or more) to earn a bachelor’s degree, how relevant will their learning be if the program’s review cycle is five years or more?
I have been a long-time supporter of the value of a bachelor’s degree. At the same time, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are rapidly changing the roles and skills needed in our workforce. Any entity, be it a college or university or company, tasked with the responsibility to provide reskilling or upskilling courses needs to consider the quality of the course(s) and the frequency of updates. If you don’t, individuals will find the most relevant source that they can afford.
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