Learn to Work vol. 7

Here’s the latest sweep from the world of education to employment, where all the job seekers are above average …

Anything you’ve seen recently worth sharing? Big shout to Molly Lindsay for sharing some of the stuff below. And congrats to Molly on her new gig as VP Content at Grovo. Really want this to become more of a community & exchange than a newsletter over time — if anyone has suggestions along those lines let me know!

If you know anyone else who might be interested in these updates, have them add their email here


Thought Pieces

  • NYT on companies pushing the envelope with ‘hiring by algorithm‘ partly to overcome hiring manager bias toward hiring people they’d want to hang out with
  • Ryan Craig on college as next pay-for-performance frontier? (referencing how online advertising has started moving toward pay-for-performance advertising in form of “cost per action” pricing)
  • I’ve been thinking about jails and jobs a lot recently — in the wake of Kalief Browder’s tragic death, the John Oliver segment on bail, and other recent reminders of just how f’ed up our criminal justice system has become. As if getting a job wasn’t hard enough for low-income folks without a CORI Scarlet A to deal with. Caught this in Nextdraft: “About the time Katrina struck, New Orleans was the jail capital of America, incarcerating people at four times the national average. Since that time, the city has reduced its local inmate population by 67%. What was the trick? First, they stopped treating jailing like a business. And second, they built a smaller jail. No really. That was a key factor. And get this; during the period New Orleans stopped jailing so many people, there has been an overall reduction in crime. Smaller jails. Less crime.” And I’d bet: less unemployment.

All the News that’s Fit to Print

  • Fast Company on first grads of P-Tech (grades “9 through 14” model in NY with IBM partnership — have heard execution at P-Tech leaves to be desired, but like the model)
  • Top jobs for 2015 college grads by #s, growth rate, salary, satisfaction level (my personal pet / fave Salesforce.com Administrator shows up in satisfaction and $)
  • Forbes on how MOOCs are being used in corporate learning
  • First category-wide numbers I’ve seen on current/future coding bootcamp enrollments (also salary/tuition data)
  • Forbes on innovators in experiential higher ed (note this is skewed heavily toward elite programs) — I find the experiential programs like Match Beyond targeting lower-income students / middle-skill jobs even more interesting
  • Lydia Dishman in Fast Company on “Jobs of the Future – and How to Get Them
  • Fullbridge raises $15M round

News on the Home Team

  • Andela closes another promising round (psyched to be sharing office space with the Andela team in Nairobi now!)
  • We were honored to have SNHU President Paul LeBlanc come to Rwanda with SNHU trustees & students over the past couple weeks to celebrate Kepler’s first graduating class. (pic below)


Learn to Work vol. 6

Here’s the latest sweep from the world of education to employment, where all the job seekers are above average …

Anything you’ve seen recently worth sharing?

If you know anyone else who might be interested in these updates, have them add their email here

Some inspiration to start the week — check out the pic below of Hubert Euyishime in Rwanda finding out he got a college scholarship. Future ≠ past.


  • This piece by Ryan Craig on full-stack higher ed ventures got me thinking, and is spot-on about jobs being top of the stack. Why are almost all the ventures I find most compelling in higher ed full-stack? (same in healthcare). I think it’s because incumbents and money-chasers in education / healthcare / other service industries throw technology at unchanged service delivery  as if it’s going to disrupt something – e.g., EMRs in healthcare, iPads in education. But the ballgame in healthcare, education, etc. is using tech to reinvent service delivery end-to-end. In other words, full stack. Think job/dev bootcamps like Koru, GA, Andela; degree programs like Match Beyond, Kepler, etc. The current service delivery model is too f’ed up to toy around the edges with tech “solutions.”
  • Liked (mostly) this piece in Fortune about seven signs you may be clueless about income inequality: “If you live near a Whole Foods; If no relative of yours serves in the military; If you’re paid by the year, not the hour; If no one you know uses meth; If you married once and remain married; If most people you know finished college; If you aren’t one of 65 million Americans with a criminal record.” Punchline of the piece: if you really want to make a difference to inequality, do it with your day job – not on the side.
  • Fred Wilson commenting on MIT Sloan professors’ work on “The Great Decoupling” – how employment/wages no longer grow nearly as quickly as labor productivity. Familiar story – creates big challenge for jobs/wages, esp lower-skilled jobs. If you like macro stuff their recent book “The Second Machine Age” looks worth a read. Fascinating infographic emerging from their work here. One of them gave a TED talk on ‘we ain’t seen nothing yet’ also worth watching. Countervailing macro trend is drop in labor supply in many places (see Rainer Strack TED talk I shared a few months back).
  • Piece in WaPo about how colleges could adapt to produce better job outcomes — including more focus on SMBs and internships, which is spot on. Internships are the new entry level job.
  • From the industry formerly known as MOOCs:
  • Economist on rapid growth in corporate universities / in-housing training
  • Fortune piece on the market for employment-oriented online training (Desire2Learn, Pluralsight, etc.) with a new punned-out catchphrase – ‘hire learning’
    • Piece also mentions a company called Knod that we’ve gotten to know a bit and that recently raised $6M round for blended-learning, job-oriented bachelor’s degree program in US & abroad – feature on Knod here if you’re curious. Partnering with Gene Wade / New Charter in US
  • Brookings taking a new slant on college rankings with ‘distance traveled’ (i.e. ‘value added’) approach — and University Ventures covers it here for short synopsis

News on the home team:


Bridge2Rwanda pic_from Medium piece on Kepler 2015

Learn to Work vol 5

Here’s the latest sweep from the world of education to employment, where all the job seekers are above average …

Anything you’ve seen recently worth sharing?

If you know anyone else who might be interested in these updates, have them add their email here

If you check out one link this weekend, make it this one — amazing This American Life episode about low-income students’ experience with college and privilege. College struggles are so deeply about sense of “I don’t belong,” “I don’t deserve it,” “I’m alone in this.” The story of how just missing out on Posse fellowship crushed Melanie is heartbreaking. Hell of a piece of journalism.


  • Of course we gotta start with the Big Bang – LinkedIn buying Lynda.com for $1.5B. If you’re in ed-to-employment and that doesn’t make your heart go all aflutter, right?
  • Fast Company on Stanford’s most popular course “Designing My Life”. This kind of support — prompting and helping students to think about shaping their journey — should be much more common in college. And yet if just feeling like you belong in college is tough for low-income students, imagine what a psychological leap “design your life” requires.
  • Michael Moe in the GSV newsletter on some of the innovation in corporate learning/training and leadership development – Google/2U partnership, CorpU, and more
  • Big feature in WSJ about how surprisingly hard is it for Houston employers to line up a pipeline of trained people for very high-paying middle-skills jobs. When employer pain gets real, their spending gets real
  • Mounting evidence all the time showing how intense relationship-based support drives college completion. Fascinating deep dive look in The Atlantic from the always-sharp Amanda Ripley on Starbucks/ASU partnership — “The Upwardly Mobile Barista” — and the student supports it provides that get less attention than the Starbucks $$ commitment but are just as important. Other recent stuff along these lines: Bottom Line feature in WSJ covering what I think is the most under-appreciated college support program in the US; and Tom Vander Ark on the Match Beyond model we’re launching in Boston
  • Jeff Selingo in WaPo asking if purpose of college is mostly job or education
  • Ryan Craig of University Ventures (scroll down to Double Myopia post) on how college-employer collaboration is way too often one-off window dressing

Learning to Work

Here’s the latest sweep from the world of education to employment, where all the job seekers are above average …

Anything you’ve seen recently worth sharing? Thanks to Josh J at Koru for sharing a couple of the snippets below.

If you know anyone else who might be interested in these updates, have them add their email here

Quick story building on the Globe piece on Match Beyond below … one of our MB students, Cathy Loesch, had been stuck in low-ish level retail roles for a decade. Couldn’t rise above assistant store manager with her high school degree, despite her professionalism & diligence. Came to Match Beyond recently (she’s around 30 yrs old), earned her Associate degree in about 6 months working her ass off on the College for America projects while sitting at desk working her concierge job, and newly armed with AA recently landed a management track job at Hertz earning double what she was before + company car + benefits. She’s on the up and up now and working on bachelor’s while working at Hertz. Go Cathy!


  • Peter Cappelli arguing that the whole skills gap thing (colleges don’t prep students) is mostly bunk and that the bigger problem is employers don’t invest enough in training. Think this lets universities off the hook way too quickly but rightly rebalances the blame — even though employers collectively spend more than universities on postsecondary training they could do a lot more, esp apprenticeship-like training.
  • Couple interesting pieces from Jeff Selingo in WaPo: 1) different take than Cappelli pointing out ways universities and students could do more on job readiness; 2) how job licensing drives up college costs (note: there’s an association of industry associations! gash me in the eye with a rock hammer).
  • Fascinating chart in the Economist suggesting choice of major much more important than college choice in ROI terms – cutting a bit against Jeff S’s argument that students sweat choice of major too much?
  • What’s up with the middle-skills gap suddenly becoming the sexiest thing in corporate philanthropy? Huge 9-figure initiatives announced of late by Capital One, Walmart (+ minimum wage bump, h/t Bentonville!), and JP Morgan. Usual suspects (JFF, Year Up, etc. getting lot of the cash – more entrepreneurs please!)
  • Last newsletter had couple snippets about MOOC/nanodegree providers doubling down on employer partnerships and co-branding — this Pace / Media storm social media/marketing master’s program is a glimpse of what could start happening even in the traditional degree space
  • Is the growing wave of on-campus innovation centers mostly window dressing or will they help shake up college culture?
  • Couple things at the intersection of big data + HR:

Plus news on the home team:

  • Boston Globe feature on Match Beyond, a close cousin of Kepler (both partnered with SNHU/College for America) we’ve been launching here in Boston
  • Michelle Weise of the Christensen Institute with a really thoughtful blog post in Competency Works about Kepler‘s work in Rwanda — could Rwanda leapfrog on competency-based ed?


Reflections on the annual Gates letter

About a month ago, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released their annual letter. Their big bet this year: the lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than any other time in history.

They sketch out five breakthroughs that could power this kind of rapid development—and it’s not only advances health and agriculture, but innovations like technology-assisted learning that will create opportunity across the world, and most profoundly in Africa.

A year and a half ago, the Kepler team made a similar bet. We realized that with the emergence of free online courses, competency-based education, and increasingly reliable broadband in Africa, there was an enormous opportunity to provide quality higher education at a much lower cost than traditional universities. If we were successful, this could offer a transformative experience that talented students from any economic background could afford.

Our approach is simple: pair world-class online content from leading universities with intensive in-person seminars led by a team of local teachers. And to ensure that our students receive the professional skills and international credentialing that they’ll need for employment, we partnered with Southern New Hampshire University’s innovative College for America program. So instead of the passive lecture and test model, our students would engage in hands-on, competency-based projects that are designed to help them master the industry identified skills they’ll need in Africa’s emerging knowledge economy.

Now, Kepler, our experimental campus in Kigali, Rwanda has enrolled nearly 150 students, almost all of whom came from difficult backgrounds and never could have afforded traditional higher education. Despite their unmistakable talent, without access to a program like this, their future would likely be limited to either subsistence agriculture or small commerce. And now, the educational experience they’re helping to create at Kepler is in some ways more advanced than what most students experience in traditional Western universities: a pragmatic, skills-based curriculum that’s tailored to what employers want in Rwanda’s competitive job market.

Most surprisingly, after only a year at Kepler, over 20% of our students had already received their AA degrees from Southern New Hampshire University and started working on their BA curriculum. And all the other students are on pace to finish their degrees on time. These statistics stand in stark comparison to the low graduation rates of American community colleges and universities.

Kepler’s approach would not have been possible even three years ago. MOOCs, competency-based education, reliable bandwidth in Rwanda—all of these innovations are only beginning to emerge. But from our experience, Bill and Melinda Gates have it exactly right: the combination of innovative software, dedicated teachers, and a career-focused curriculum is a combination that is poised to radically transform learning around the world, raising millions of talented African students out of poverty and creating a new global economic powerhouse.

For more detail on this, there’s a good piece over at The Verge that discusses how Kepler and other organizations are leveraging MOOCs and other recent innovation to improve education in the developing world.


Chris Hedrick is the CEO of Kepler, based in Kigali Rwanda. Follow him on Twitter here.

TPS Reports Vol 3 – the news on education and employment

News is flying quicker than usual here in E2E land, where all the job seekers are above average . . . 9-piece Nuggets below

Anyone got any interesting stories from your work recently?
If you know anyone else who might be interested in these updates, have them add their email here
And for Sunday fun, master class on job interviews from Will Ferrell
  • WSJ with interesting piece on why it’s so hard to fill sales jobs. Looking back, I wish I’d done a sales job early in my career! What a great early experience to have in so many ways
  • Lots of coverage of Coursera’s move in the Udacity / nanodegree direction with university-branded “Specializations” that bake in employer-branded “Capstone Projects” — piggybacking on university and employer brands simultaneously
  • New angle on the case that a bachelor’s degree does pay off despite all the hyped debate about that — bachelor’s holders get much more lifelong learning investment from employers (and the full report here showing that employers spend roughly $600B annually on training, more than all universities/colleges combined
  • Outside of SNHU & College for America, one of the most interesting university initiatives to watch is what the University of Texas system is doing with UTx. In the context of other innovation in the Texas system — like the $10K degree push and the college completion work at UT-Austin — the next-gen platform that UTx is building (sneak peek here) could help turn Texas into the leader in rethinking higher ed.
  • On the next-gen HR side, I’m really curious to see where Dunwello goes. Founded by a successful serial entrepreneur here in Boston — idea is to get people reviewing other individual professionals. Early days but seems like trying to Yelp-ize the way professional references happen in the internet age. I’m surprised LinkedIn hasn’t done a better job of figuring this out yet. One of the things I’ve always scratched my head about in traditional hiring is how we rely more on thin-slice impressions the hiring company gets through direct interviewing than on thick-slice impressions from people who’ve worked with the candidate for years.
  • Piece reviewing how we’re starting to ditch the baggage-heavy “vocational” in favor of “CTE” – and making CTE consistent with higher ed, middle class, and middle skills / more cognitively demanding work
  • Washington Post on how colleges can improve employment outcomes

E2E Newsification

Below’s the news from E2E land — where the universities have their head in the sand, employers are starting to wake up, and all the job seekers are above average.
If you have any colleagues or friends who you think would want to be copied, have them add their email address here.
Quick story I thought I’d share, some of you have heard . . . last year (2013-14) I was a Year Up mentor for a 19 yr old guy named Stephane who’d recently immigrated from Cameroon, dropped out of community college in Boston, and was working as a waiter. In Feb 2014 he got an internship with a pharma company doing basic admin of their Salesforce database. Taught himself Salesforce, got a basic Salesforce certification, and after his 5-month internship ended he got headhunted and landed a $60K job doing Salesforce.com admin with a company in DC. Fast fwd 6 months. Stephane texted me the other day to say he’s now getting headhunted by Fannie Mae to do Salesforce for $100K+ annually. Doesn’t have his Associate degree yet, and has 11 months of white collar work experience. So maybe there is something to this whole skills gap thing.
Please keep sharing interesting stuff you see, anecdotes, and feedback — community project here!


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