Why America’s Largest Community College District Invested in LinkedIn Learning: To Help Prepare Students for the Workforce
March 25, 2019
“It’s all about the skills.”
That’s how Rick Hodge, Dean of Career and Technical Education/Workforce Development for Los Angeles Southwest College, one of nine colleges in the largest community college district in the US, the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD), describes the mission of the modern-day community college experience for its students. With the average age of LACCD students between 24 and 27 years old, these are people who are starting out or have already been in the workforce, and are looking to either make a change or advance their position within their chosen field.
“The opportunities are in what we call ‘middle skill’ jobs,” Hodge said. “They are coming to us with very specific needs, seeking a new job, not an advanced degree. It’s our goal to get them ready quickly.”
It’s this need to fast-track students’ growth and development – while also helping them create a robust professional digital profile in the process – that led Hodge and his team to bring LinkedIn Learning onto their campuses.
“With LinkedIn and LinkedIn Learning there is no other place where you can create on online resume, identify people with similar experience, efficiently and effectively job search and learn,” he said. “It’s a great tool. It’s a great resource. And now, for the students, it’s free.”
LACCD’s Increased Focus on Getting Students Career-Ready
Formerly, colleges would help students find employment by “putting them on computers and having them search,” Hodge said. “It has been largely self-serve.”
LACCD wanted to transcend that. Yes, ultimately success is on the student, but they wanted to give more direction and more tools for students to prepare themselves for high growth, high demand careers.
So, they are currently:
- Launching a Career Job Ready Initiative across their nine colleges that combines career and technical education with career centers on each campus. Even before they invested in LinkedIn Learning, LinkedIn was a big part of this push. “We are now refocusing our career centers on recruitment and placement,” Hodge said. “The students can now create their digital resume on LinkedIn.”
The Los Angeles Region of colleges is also taking advantage of:
- The Entrepreneur Network of LA, a student centered program designed to invest in entrepreneur innovation, such as highly specialized industry training, technical consulting and a multitude of services that provide job opportunities for students.
- The Pro-GTL (Global Trade & Logistics) Regional Consortia, which works to promote career opportunities in global trade, ecommerce, supply chain, logistics and global entrepreneurship.
How LinkedIn Learning Fits In: Students Can Learn Relevant Skills While Upleveling Their Profile
The three efforts are around getting students prepared for the workforce quicker and more effectively. But there was one remaining area the LACCD wanted to focus on – give students even more learning opportunities to learn professional skills, on a platform that would showcase what they learned.
Originally, in spring of 2018, LACCD tested meeting the need with 1,000 licenses from Lynda.com (which LinkedIn owns). And while it proved successful, the district became far more excited once LinkedIn Learning became available to academic institutions.
“It adds an extra oomph, being connected to the LinkedIn profile,” Hodge said. “This gives students direct interaction with potential employers. As students complete courses, these are posted on their profiles. We want businesses out there looking for employees to feel that we have fully prepared the talent.”
That meant the best of both worlds. Yes, students can learn both hard and soft skills from LinkedIn Learning’s 13,000+ online courses to further help them land the jobs they are shooting for. They can also advertise those skills on their LinkedIn profile, making hiring managers and recruiters at organizations aware they have those skills.
“Our students need certifications and credentials,” Hodge explained. “I was already a LinkedIn disciple, and it made perfect sense to promote this opportunity with our students. The courses offered by LinkedIn Learning are practical, they are reflective of the real world, and the videos are appropriate for what we need. It’s a good fit.”
A few other features that made LinkedIn Learning appealing to the LACCD are:
- LinkedIn Learning is in seven languages, namely Spanish. 60 percent of LACCD students are Hispanic, with a portion of those speaking no English when they first enroll. So, the fact that LinkedIn has courses in Spanish – as well as German, French, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese and, of course, English – makes it a far more inclusive tool, according to Francia Peña, a Trainer/Presenter at Los Angeles Southwest College who was instrumental in rolling out LinkedIn Learning to students and faculty.
- The mobile experience. Some LACCD students don’t have a computer or, even if they do, they have limited access to it throughout the day. But, they virtually all have smartphones, so the mobile app helps students seamlessly fit learning into their day.
All of this made for an easy decision for LACCD to expand their investment in the fall of 2018, from 1,000 Lynda.com licenses to 30,000 licenses on LinkedIn Learning.
LinkedIn Learning and the Future At LACCD: Tying Courses to In-Demand Skills to Help Students Land Jobs
With LinkedIn Learning in place, along with the three aforementioned initiatives, Hodge feels that the LACCD is ready to pump fully trained and credentialed employees into the California workforce. The next phase of the plan includes creating lists of competencies that align with the 10 high growth/demand industry sectors already identified by the California Community College system.
“With those sets of competencies, we will create learning pathways for each sector,” Hodge said. “Counselors in our career centers will help you identify your path, and connect you to all the courses you need. There will be a broad range of competencies that apply to all, and then more specific pathways for the sectors. You need to be prepared. The end goal is jobs.”
As the employment market has evolved, community colleges have seen that “business and industry are more interested in validation of experience and skills are the key,” Hodge said.
“With LinkedIn Learning, we can show that through the certifications, credentialing and the overall learning,” he said. “Our students are going from the theoretical world to the real world. They need to be ready.”