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Disrupting the digital talent gap – the power of Lynda

As was widely reported earlier this year LinkedIn spent what many reported as an eye watering $1.5 billion in April to acquire Lynda.com, the skills-training video library. This was the 4th largest deal in social media history, as reported on their CEO, Jeff Weiners Blog. Helping LinkedIn “change the way people connect to opportunity, by enabling its 340 million members to accelerate their careers.”

At the time Forrester senior analyst Kim Celestre told CIO.com in an email interview “This is a very smart move for LinkedIn because it increases the value that the professional network provides to its members, recruiters and marketers. It also helps LinkedIn expand into the schools, businesses and governments that are currently using the Lynda.com platform for large e-learning initiatives.”

Bridging the talent gap

The integration of Lynda.com 3,500 video based courses has begun and during the Summer, as announced by Venture Beat they launched free Lynda.com courses for their users, 30 days free for premium members and 21 days for non-paying LinkedIn users. The trial being offered through their largest division Talent Solutions leading to sales increasing over 38% to $443.4 and helping LinkedIn beat analysts’ expectations, as reported by the Wall Street Journal

Aside from helping LinkedIn bolster their declining display revenue, this has the potential to help the often criticized but heavily used social network to become the portal for training and development, especially in the highly sort after areas of digital skills. “We have a shared vision of connecting relevant knowledge to those in need of new or stronger skills,” Lynda.com cofounder Lynda Weinman wrote in a LinkedIn Pulse post, also stating that she and Weiner “both believe that the skills gap is one of the leading social issues of our time — technology changes fast and people need to keep their skills up to date.”

As a taste of what is to come, Lynda offered a course on developing apps on the Apple Watch the same day Apple announced software updates for the watch at its annual developers conference and this month covered the iphone 6 launch offering software development video based tutorials on the platform.

Edtech continues to be a burgeoning area of investment for VCs in the US in 2014 and has continued into 2105:

 

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Many digital training courses have been launched by new to market companies in the US and increasingly in the UK. Companies such as Floream who have developed the sqauredonline.com digital marketing course in conjunction with Google growing rapidly. As well as established players such CIM, Reed.co.uk and The Digital Marketing Institute all building online offerings. The global training accreditation market being worth over $30 billion according to CB Insights

However I believe the move by LinkedIn has potential to be the game changer, not only do they have truly global reach and an unrivalled social audience. (During the second quarter 2015, LinkedIn had 380 million members, up from 313 million members in the second quarter of 2014 – Statista 2015). It will also allow users to lead with a measure of their digital savvy and competency. In turn recruiters who pay to access via their premium account, will be able to select candidates based on proven training credentials and knowledge in key digital areas. Skills which are known to be in short supply. Clearly the quality of content will be key, LinkedIn have the audience the content usually follows.

The value as always is in the data and potentially allows LinkedIn to corner the market in who is the most relevant for hard to find digital skills as well as offering ways to bridge perceived gaps in knowledge. Changing the way employees build their profiles, relying less on traditional CVs and often meaningless recommendations. This will enable internal recruitment teams to tap into qualified audiences and more accurately and knowledgably directly reach out to potential candidates. In turn this will fundamentally challenging the role of mid-market recruiters and training providers alike.

LinkedIn has built an unrivalled professional audience, it is now adding the ability to help train, develop and potentially become the barometer for measuring digital capability. The Giant is stirring!

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