On Friday the online education company Coursera announced it’s pulling down the paywall on its 3,800-course catalogue for workers who now find themselves unemployed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Federal, state, and local government agencies that serve the unemployed can apply here to provide free access to Coursera’s courses—an offer that typically costs $US399 ($625) per year—through September 30. Anyone enrolled at that time will have until the end of the year to complete their courses and earn professional credits. Called the Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative, its an extension of the company’s Coursera for Government program, an initiative originally launched in 2017 to help equip government employees and residents with in-demand skills.
Topics run the gamut from digital marketing and analytics to cloud computing and app development, and Coursera’s partnership with several big names in tech allows users to earn qualifications tailored specifically to those companies, such as the Google IT Support or IBM z/OS Mainframe professional certificates.
“Coursera, along with its community of partners, is ready to serve the millions of workers who have lost their jobs and are going to have a hard time returning in a slow economy,” Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda said per a Forbes report. “We are honoured to help U.S. states and countries around the world in their efforts to alleviate the impact on communities hardest hit by the pandemic.”
Rival online learning platforms Kaplan and Udacity have also recently begun offering free development and training resources in the wake of a global coronavirus pandemic that’s affected an estimated 2.7 billion workers worldwide. Applications for unemployment benefits have reached record highs in the United States, with 4.4 million Americans filing jobless claims last week. The total number of laid-off and furloughed Americans recently surpassed 26 million—effectively negating the job gains wracked up since the Great Recession.
Agencies in Illinois, Arizona, and Oklahoma will be the first to offer Coursera’s new program, along with governments in Colombia, Costa Rica, Greece, Malaysia, Panama, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. The company anticipates that more U.S. states and countries will take up the offer over the next few weeks, and it will be considering eligibility for non-profits and other non-governmental organisations that serve the unemployed “on a case-by-case basis.”