LinkedIn Learning Evolves: Beware of HR Tech Competitors
LinkedIn Learning has been one of HR Technology’s most fascinating success stories. It all started in 2015 LinkedIn bought Lynda.coma leading provider of high-quality video learning designed for creative professionals.
I was familiar with Lynda.com before the acquisition, and when they joined LinkedIn I had to ask myself “what does a recruiting and social media company know about training?” Well, as a fast-moving, customer-centric company, LinkedIn learned fast. Not only did Lynda.com fully integrate into the LinkedIn platform (which took a few years), the company created a product team focused on new themes, more advanced video experiences, and then quizzes, assessments, and more.
Many of us in the L&G technology market feel “privileged” to know so much about this complex space. Well, LinkedIn was a quick learner, and over the years I met product managers and content leaders with passion, open-mindedness, and a lot of drive. So, while LinkedIn entered the L&G market “late” (Skillsoft, Coursera, Udemy and others were established), they could see how big this market would be, so they could pour engineering, marketing and brainpower into the business.
In its eighth year, LinkedIn Learning has become one of the largest content players in the market. Today LinkedIn has 18,000 courses in over 20 languages, over 16,000 corporate clients, hundreds of salespeople (now integrated into LinkedIn’s sales team for other talent products) and generates billions of dollars in revenue. In fact, it’s unusual for me to talk to a company that does NOT use LinkedIn Learning for their employees.
The corporate learning market has changed
In its first decade of growth, LinkedIn Learning focused on content. This means adding more titles, increasing the level of collaboration and testing available, and enriching courses with more topics, more experts, and more hands-on experience. LinkedIn now offers simulations, assessments, and a variety of hands-on training in software engineering, data science, cloud engineering, cybersecurity, and AI. And while it’s a very competitive market, LinkedIn gains a lot of market share and has the benefit of leveraging its tight integration with Microsoft and the vast network of LinkedIn Recruiter customers.
But as most of you know, the future of corporate learning is not “more content.” It is “higher ability”. And that means, as our new research shows, giving employees (and organizations) the tools they need grow up. Career pathways, skills engines, and credential-oriented learning and “skills academies” are the future.
I just finished a meeting with 15 learning managers from large banks and the first topic was how to leverage and extend our learning to create the right paths, stronger internal mobility and motivation for employees (and managers) to train themselves. for our high-growth jobs. This is not a “learning problem”, it is a more complex problem of “helping the individual and the organization to adapt and grow”.
So to meet this need, HR Tech vendors are focusing on more integrated solutions: Skills Academies, Talent Marketplace platforms and better skills inference tools and what we call Talent Intelligence. Where does LinkedIn play in all this?
Surprise surprise: they are releasing a range of products to reach this new market. Yes, LinkedIn Learning is becoming one corporate learning and career platformnot just a massive library of content.
Where is LinkedIn going?
Let me describe it LinkedIn Learning’s new enterprise platform in four areas:
First, the company is constantly improving and streamlining its 39,000+ skills and tags these courses. This means that a company or employee can focus their learning paths on these skills and also understand the skills they need to achieve a specific career goal. This alone is a step forward: most learning libraries are not carefully labeled as such.
LinkedIn doesn’t currently explicitly “sell” or promote its skills library as an offering, but it is in the new integrated platform. (More on that later.)
2/ Career paths.
Second, and more importantly, LinkedIn now delivers role-based career path with Role Guides that include role-based content, skills, and more, customizable for specific organizations. This includes a new feature that allows students to set their career goals, take skills assessments, and receive content recommendations tailored to their goals and skill gaps.
Our latest research on L&G, The Definitive Guide, found that ‘role growth’ and ‘growing into new roles’ have become the biggest impacts of training. Yes, people want to learn new skills, but companies want those skills to take them somewhere. LinkedIn now offers these predefined and customizable career paths within the LinkedIn Learning platform. (on LinkedIn New Workplace Learning Report found that workers under 50 prioritize career growth over work-life balance when evaluating new opportunities.)
Incidentally, most companies put this functionality into their LMS or Talent Marketplace tool, so LinkedIn now offers enterprise-class learning management functionality.
3/ Talent market.
There’s more: thirdly, the system works as a Talent Marketplace. Yeah, I’m not kidding. LinkedIn Learning exposes companies to internal work and projects (which will come later) and allows you to promote internal mobility as part of your learning journey.
This is a very significant new feature. In addition to making learning more relevant, it also addresses the need for one of HR’s biggest trends: creating streamlined employee-driven internal talent mobility. Watch out for Gloat, Fuel50, Workday and others. I have to believe that companies will want to look into that.
And it gets better. Through LinkedIn’s connection to recruiters (also integrated into Linedin), employees can request to “share” their interest in jobs within their company. This means recruiters and hiring managers can learn about certifications and employee skills, along with their LinkedIn profile. (LinkedIn will offer project work and concerts later this year.)
4/ Certificates of Professionalism.
The fourth “dropping shoe” is LinkedIn’s professional certifications. Unlike the “certificates” you get from completing a course, LinkedIn is now partnering with strategic vendors to offer assessment-based certifications. These are powerful verification tools for any professional. (We’re building that capability for HR, by the way Josh Bersin Academy.)
LinkedIn Learning Hub becomes business
These new features are part of the LinkedIn Learning Hub, a product designed to “open up” LinkedIn Learning to third-party content and other features.
What does this mean for L&G and HR buyers? It makes the market even more competitive. One of the newest spaces in HR is the Talent Marketplace and Capability Academy markets. While these features are still new, I believe they move LinkedIn Learning from a “content offering” to a true “corporate learning and internal mobility solution.” And now that this new functionality is live, new features will come faster.
I’m a fan of vendors like Gloat, Eightfold, Fuel50, Nomadic, CoRise, Modal, Hone, Udemy, Guild Education and many of the vendors I write about regularly. These innovators have built many features—job matching, cohort-based learning, mentoring, career paths—that companies desperately need to adapt to the “skills frenzy” taking place in the economy.
LinkedIn, as a large and established player, has now transitioned from a “recruiting and content company” to a much deeper enterprise solution. Through these new features, the Learning Hub, and the company’s deeper integration with Microsoft Viva and Teams, I can only see good things ahead for LinkedIn.
(PS. And who knows where Chat-GPT will play!)
A new generation of mastery-based learning platforms has arrived
Talent Intelligence Primera
The Definitive Guide to Learning: Workflow Growth
Talent Marketplace Collection
Check out Josh Bersin Academy: The World’s Home For HR