EdTechNew markets

A SoftBank-backed EdTech unicorn has supported the learning of a quarter of the million people – all with the help of partnerships.

Headquartered in Singapore and only founded six years ago, Emeritus has grown to a $3.2 billion valuation.

It provides professional education to individuals, companies and governments through collaborations with more than 50 of the world’s top universities such as Harvard, MIT and INSEAD.

It is now launching in the UK. “We’ve delivered a world-class education to over 250,000 people in 80 countries around the world with success in the US, India, China and Latin America,” Anand Chopra-McGowan, general manager, UK & Europe (Enterprise), tells TechBlast.

“Now that we have expanded to the UK, we are excited to begin partnerships with employers and the government to help close the growing skills gap that exists here.”

Its current UK partnerships include the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, London Business School and the University of Manchester, with more in the pipeline. “9,000 UK learners have so far taken Emeritus courses [but] rather than set our sights on numbers, we’re keen to partner with large caps, SMEs and government to help solve the skills gap and unlock the massive potential of the UK’s workforce,” adds Chopra-McGowan.

“Vocational skills training has historically been ineffective, inaccessible and expensive with challenges including passive learning, low course completion rates and high prices – this reserved learning for the few. 

“We’ve pioneered the ‘small private online courses’ model, designed to succeed where other models have been failing students. This brings the more structured and supportive element of the classroom experience to the online world, giving thousands of people, wherever they are located in the country, access to high-quality learning.” 

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The courses are distinguished by a cohort-based learning model, personal engagement between faculty and students, course customisation and mentoring. “With this approach a small group of individuals learn and progress together to foster collaboration, networking and peer support, while building connections and community,” explains Chopra-McGowan.

“Not only is this way of learning much more affordable than in-person courses, it also means that physical distance is no longer a barrier for education. For example, someone who works and lives in Bradford can easily access a high-quality education through an online course at the University of Cambridge or Imperial College London.

“We are excited to bring our new approach to lifelong learning to the UK and democratise access to the world’s best universities.”

Offering more than 250 professional learning courses – including online short courses, online degrees, diploma-based programs and bootcamps – Emeritus has experienced 150% topline growth year-over-year as students look to jumpstart their careers and workers seek to pivot to new industries.

Courses are flexible and take about 40 hours to complete over 10 weeks. “Emeritus prepares people for the skills they need now and for the jobs of the future. Our courses are often delivered by working alongside companies who want to upskill their workforce, so we’re specialising in topics such as sustainability, finance, artificial intelligence, coding and data science that will boost the productivity and competitiveness of the UK’s economy,” says Chopra-McGowan.

For example, it recently announced a Sustainability Leadership Executive Education programme with Imperial College Business School, which launches in February 2022 and will equip business leaders and decision-makers with skills, knowledge and capabilities to help their organisations meet global climate change goals and to get us to net zero. 

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“We know that our courses can get the UK’s workforce the skills they need, and that with some funding and regulatory changes the government can unlock this potential: we need a more liberalised approach to funding that lets those in work access training without taking out loans, and regulatory changes that mean people can access the funded training they need without their existing qualifications acting as a barrier to doing so,” says Chopra-McGowan. 

“Our suggestion is that the government creates a new earned learning entitlement for higher level skills, giving workers up to £1,000 a year to fund skills-based learning. 

“Modelled on the French funding system and funded from the existing National Skills Fund, this approach would come at no extra cost to the government while better delivering on their priorities of creating a high-skilled high-wage economy.”