The company noted that recent findings have shown “87% of people globally believe the skills needed for jobs are different than five years ago due to the increased use of technology in day-to-day work”.

“At FutureLearn, we’ve seen huge demand from both learners and employers for more professional skills development opportunities,” said Hanna Celina, the company’s director of insights.

“For example, our business and management courses saw an almost 200% year-on-year increase in enrolments in 2020, while our digital skills courses from the Institute of Coding have seen an almost 2,000% increase since the start of the year and are now on over 700,000 enrolments to date.”

“Our business and management courses saw an almost 200% year-on-year increase in enrolments in 2020”

Its first set of over 35 ExpertTracks will cover topics such as fintech, cyber security, data analysis, social media marketing, psychology, project management, entrepreneurship and leadership.

Each ExpertTrack costs £36 a month, are automated and peer assessed, and learners can earn certificates for completed courses.

Course content has been developed by universities and institutions around the world including Monash University in Australia, Coventry University in the UK, and the University of Michigan in the US.

“This new development builds on our successful partnership with FutureLearn, which since 2013 has enabled us to open up our academic expertise to a diverse group of learners, enabling them to build their skills and grow their opportunities in the post-covid job market,” said Neil Morris, interim deputy vice-chancellor digital transformation at the University of Leeds.

“This year, almost 650,000 adult learners have accessed our Digital Skills for the Workplace courses developed in partnership with FutureLearn, with six of these adopted by the Department for Education for its Skills Toolkit.”

The new product was not created directly in response to Covid-19, FutureLearn’s chief operations officer Susannah Belcher highlighted, but added that the company has more than 60 courses on its site that span sectors such as teaching, healthcare, supply chain and mental health.

“Covid-19 did not drive the timeline for ExpertTracks, but did validate and support our thinking as we heard more and more often from learners about their interest in low-cost, accessible, competency based learning and personal development opportunities,” she told The PIE News.

With the pandemic impacting “millions of people’s behaviour, career opportunities” at a time when many require quality upskilling and reskilling resources, the launch of ExpertTracks “couldn’t come soon enough”, she highlighted.

FutureLearn aims to scale up the offering each quarter with 20 new ExpertTracks due to land each month.

“ExpertTracks have been specifically built to help learners gain new and vital employability skills”

“ExpertTracks have been specifically built to help learners gain new and vital employability skills,” said Belcher, explaining that the company had taken into account feedback from our existing learners.

“Using additional data from SEEK, our inhouse insights team pinpointed the most in-demand industries, employment opportunities and roles with some of the highest skills gaps,” she continued.

“We also heard from employers that assessments, meaningful time commitments and tangible outcomes were the minimum requirements to really make online learning stand out through the hiring process – so all of these insights have played out in our approach.”

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