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LearnUp: Using Technology to Solve the Skills Gap

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This post was originally published on NEA’s website:

Marley Barazon was 16 when she immigrated to the United States from the Philippines.  For months, while handling the rigor of senior year of high school, she looked for a job to support her family as they attempted to make it in a new country.  Application after application, she kept receiving rejections.  After three months, Marley finally came across a Craigslist posting for a position at Old Navy, and the link redirected her to LearnUp.  After completing the scenario-based LearnUp training, she applied for the job, and received her first interview in America.  Then, the good news came—Old Navy wanted to hire her, as a “Sellebrity”, or retail salesperson, at a nearby branch.

It is an economic irony that in every country around the world, there are thousands of unfilled jobs and yet simultaneously a high unemployment rate.  In America, we have a ~5% official unemployment rate, but in certain cities that rate is three to four times as high—and is even higher amongst minorities, youth, and low income folks.  If you add those who are underemployed, the number is even higher.  LearnUp is trying to solve this “skills gap”, starting with entry-level jobs, by working directly with employers to put online the necessary content an applicant needs to know to be a successful employee.  Applicants then complete targeted training at zero cost to them before applying for the corresponding job, which increases their chances of getting hired by 300%.  We believe this could not only help the people desperately in need of work to get jobs, but could also revolutionize vocational education over time.

Whether you are a young immigrant looking for your first job, a veteran who fought on the battlefield in Afghanistan who now wants to succeed in civilian society, or a single mother trying to find her next gig, LearnUp is your platform.  But at the end of the day, LearnUp isn’t just a job-training platform.  It is a platform for hope.

At NEA, we are excited to announce our co-lead Series A  investment with our friends at Shasta Ventures to support Alexis, Kenny, and the rest of the LearnUp team on their quest to retrain America.


Written by sheeltyle

September 16, 2015 at 10:44 am

LearnUp & NEA

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In the oasis that is Silicon Valley, it is often forgotten that the USA isn’t a place where your employees are constantly being poached by other employers who offer more lucrative compensation packages and growth opportunities.  As this Wired piece on LearnUp states, the USA is really a place where “the unemployment rate has shot above the national average, employers are flooded with applicants, and education must result in immediately marketable skills”.  But the USA is also a place where there are many job openings that aren’t getting filled.

Enter LearnUp, a startup building a platform where employers can create video content, tutorials, links to certifications, and other resources for applicants to get highly relevant, targeted vocational training for open positions.  For example, Staples’ trainings for a manager position include a YouTube tutorial on QuickBooks, a Harvard Business School “Working Knowledge” article on “Making the Move to General Manager,” a article on “Retail Store Management Tips,” and a TED talk on the “Eight Secrets of Success.”

We at NEA are excited to partner with Alexis Ringwald, CEO of LearnUp and a good friend, and Kenny Ma to help launch a company that solves the skills gap that exists between many employers and job applicants.  As Alexis says in the Wired piece, “We’re not launching a start-up, we’re launching a movement.  We’re on a mission to re-skill America.”

Decreasing unemployment, one position at a time.

This Wired article is terrific and was the source of some of the above content.  

Written by sheeltyle

August 27, 2012 at 10:26 pm