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Learn In Wants to Reinvent Employee Skill Development

April 04, 2022 Learning and Development
Gabrielle Rodgers
By Gabrielle Rodgers LinkedIn

Learn In, a technology platform to develop employee skills, announced a $10 million Series A investment last month. Company officials said they will invest the money in Learn In's technology platform as well as the company's customer support teams.

"There’s never been a more tumultuous time when it comes to retaining and recruiting talent," Learn In Co-founder and CEO David Blake told Reworked. "Learn In helps companies establish internal Talent Academies so companies aren’t having to react to the market but can proactively develop employees at scale with deeper skills aligned to where the company needs it most."

Blake said on LinkedIn last week that the Salt Lake City-based company added another $3 million to its Series A, taking the total funding round to $13 million. The investment was led by Firework Ventures and included Kickstart Fund, GSV Ventures and Album Ventures.

Delivering Upskilling at Scale

David Blake, co-founder and CEO, Learn In
David Blake, cofounder and CEO, Learn InPHOTO: Courtesy Image, Learn In
It's worth keeping on eye on what Blake and team are doing based on past success in the corporate learning and talent market. He's the co-founder and executive chairman of corporate learning technology disruptor Degreed, taking that company from startup in 2012 to tech unicorn status, based on its last funding round in 2021.

Learn In, which was founded in 2020 and currently has 20 employees, provides upskilling-as-a-service by giving companies a mechanism to steer all of their resources to meet worker demands and changing skill needs, according to Blake. Legacy learning platforms such as learning management systems (LMS) are built for compliance and delivering one-size-fits-all training, he said, and aren't able to deliver upskilling at the scale needed in today's organizations.

Even learning experience platforms, the bread and butter of upstart learning tech companies like Degreed, with their ability to quickly create customized learning paths for individual employees aren't enough to close the corporate skills gap and combat the negative effects of the Great Resignation.

"There’s a pre-pandemic view of the world, where tactical training tools like the LMS for compliance or the LXP for bite-sized content served the purpose of delivering scheduled one-off or job-aid training," Blake said. "We believe that the world has significantly tilted in the direction of helping every employee learn the skills needed for the bigger moments in their journey, such as onboarding, preparing for a new role or learning a new tool or process."

In a press release announcing the news, Blake equated the difference between the current corporate learning model and what's needed as the difference between watching a fitness video and actually doing the hard work to become an athlete. "Listening to a course doesn't turn you into a data scientist, just as watching a CrossFit video doesn't turn you into an athlete," he said.

Related Article: Do We Have a Global Digital Workplace Skills Crisis?

Talent Academies to Close the Gap

The way Learn In proposes companies close this gap is by actively engaging employees in learning and skill development through Talent Academies, in-house skill and career development pathways built on Learn In’s platform. Academies provide integrated access to learning budgets, development programs and delivery of custom programs.

HR, talent and L&D leaders start a Talent Academy by first accessing their tuition assistance program or by moving existing onboarding or leadership training to Learn In, according to Blake. They can then expand with access to other core features, such as Learn In's tuition benefits manager, a prepaid learning stipend card, dedicated coaching, a custom program builder and a curated marketplace of skill building programs from sources such as EdX, Sounding Board and Emeritus. Currently, Learn In's marketplace has over 1,000 programs, with plans to expand it based on customer demand.

According to Blake, there are five factors at work at the moment — the pandemic, shrinking half life of skills, widespread digitization, talent battles and the drive for more equality of opportunity — that have resulted in a permanent change in worker expectations. "We can’t hire our way out of it," he said. "We need to invest in our people."

It's no longer an issue for learning and talent development professionals alone to tackle. More than three-quarters of CEOs see availability of key skills as the biggest threat to their business, he added. 

"Learning will be on every C-suite’s strategic agenda with HR and L&D having to wade through old tools and resources to close major skills gaps aligned to employee wants," he said.

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