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Corporate Training and Adult Education Markets Continue to Grow Worldwide, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Two peripheral areas of education are leading the way in utilizing technology to speed learning and dramatically cut costs:  leisure learning and corporate training.  The leisure education market has been stormed by savvy entrepreneurs who offer online- and DVD-based learning that has become wildly popular.  Leaders in this area include (acquired by LinkedIn in 2015 for $1.5 billion), where a modest monthly subscription price provides access to thousands of online courses ranging from how to use various types of software to how to bolster photography skills.  Similar success has been achieved in online courses covering arts and crafts at  A company called The Great Courses ( has built a tremendous business by offering online- and DVD-based lectures by outstanding professors, covering topics ranging from philosophy to the great religions to history to economics.  Rosetta Stone ( has likewise built a very large business offering discs and online versions of language lessons.
Corporate training and education was an $82.5 billion market in the U.S. in 2020, according to Training magazine, and a $165 billion market worldwide, according to Plunkett Research estimates.  While many of the world’s largest corporations have their own in-house training departments, classrooms and even learning campuses, much of employee development and training is being outsourced, particularly in the small- to mid-sized employer market.  A very wide variety of providers are taking advantage of this trend.  Leaders include software training offered by CodeAcademy (teaching software development).  Udacity, one of the world’s most talked about MOOC companies has changed its focus from providing university courses online to providing corporate training. Corporate training may be aimed at employees at nearly all levels.  For example, McDonald’s Hamburger University teaches more than 7,500 students per year.  Elsewhere, Apple hired a top pro, Yale University’s business school dean Joel Podolny, to run its corporate university.  By one count, roughly 4,000 corporations around the world have their own in-house institutions of advanced training.
In 2020, EY, a top employer of MBA graduates, formed a partnership with Hult International School of Business to create a part-time online management degree program for its employees.  The new program, which EY stipulates will be heavy on technology and data science skills, will be available free of charge to EY’s 280,000+ employees.
Microsoft announced in 2020 plans to provide free online classes and job finding tools that will focus on 10 occupations, including data analyst, help-desk technician and digital marketer.  The firm hopes to provide the classes to 25 million people.
Starbucks offers the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.  This is good news for the firm’s massive employee base, and a ground-breaking educational assistance effort that may have a significant effect on the employee benefits practices of other large employers.
Starbucks employees who work at least 20 hours per week qualify for tuition assistance for a two-year associate’s degree.  Employees also may receive full tuition reimbursement for college courses of junior year and above by successfully completing online courses offered by Arizona State University.  These employees may choose from approximately 40 degree plans, ranging from education, to electrical engineering, to retail management.  The net effect is the ability to earn a 4-year degree from a noteworthy university with little out-of-pocket expense for employees.
This is a huge step up from the $1,000 per year tuition aid that the firm offered to eligible employees in the past.  To further boost the new program, employees may access an enrollment coach, financial aid counselor and academic advisor as needed.  Arizona State University has achieved high ranks on many lists of schools and is a widely recognized innovator in online learning.
General Assembly, a subsidiary of temporary employment firm Adecco Group, offers free online courses every Friday.  Courses ranking the highest in demand are in digital marketing, such as search engine optimization, social media and data science.  The company hopes to reskill 5 million people by 2030.
The movement toward work-from-home will accelerate learning-from-home.  This includes corporate training of many types.

SPOTLIGHT:  Amazon Pledges to Retrain One-Third of its Workforce
In mid-2019, ecommerce giant announced plans to invest $700 million through 2025 to retrain one-third of its workforce.  As automation and machine learning is implemented, many workers are displaced.  Amazon hopes to retrain 100,000 workers to move into more advanced positions in the company or find new careers elsewhere.  The cost breaks down to approximately $7,000 per employee.  The company offers Machine Learning University, which teaches graduate-level machine learning skills tailored to software engineers with computer science experience.  In addition, Amazon’s fulfillment center employees may participate in the Amazon Career Choice program that pays 95% of tuition and fees to programs such as nursing or aircraft mechanics, which prepares them to find jobs outside the company.

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