LinkedIn is developing a major new training program to teach its employees about artificial intelligence, which it predicts will be a part of everything they do in the near future, GeekWire’s Nat Levy reported last week:
The AI Academy program will start with classes for engineers, product managers and executives, but the company hopes to expand it so every employee can gain some degree of AI expertise. The first cohort from LinkedIn engineering just started going through the program, but the company is already looking at making the AI Academy part of its onboarding process for all new employees. There are four levels of classes, each one a deeper dive than the last. When participants are done, LinkedIn wants them to have an understanding one of the most important issues in the field: which problems AI can solve and which ones it can’t.
LinkedIn’s Head of Science and Engineering Craig Martell writes in a blog post about the program that AI is “like oxygen—it’s present in every product that we build and in every experience on our platform.” There it has common ground with parent company Microsoft. Like LinkedIn, Microsoft has infused AI into many of its major initiatives, and it offers an online training program for developers.
Microsoft has made huge bets on AI and sought to position itself as a leader in the field, hiring thousands of scarce and expensive AI experts and building AI functionality into its suite of enterprise products—with which LinkedIn is also becoming increasingly integrated. In that context, it’s no surprise to see LinkedIn make AI knowledge a priority for its own workforce: They’re going to need it.
The Swiss staffing company Adecco has made a deal to acquire the New York-based coding bootcamp and education technology startup General Assembly for $413 million, Axios’s Dan Primack reported on Monday. The acquisition reflects the evolution of GA’s business, which is increasingly focused on enterprise customers rather than individuals:
A majority of GA’s revenue by year-end is expected to be business-to-business, whereas it was only 15% two years ago. Most of that is in terms of re-skilling workers, including a “talent pipeline as-a-service” business whereby GA acts not only as a recruiter, but also as a trainer (with hiring companies paying the freight).
GA will continue to operate as an independent division under the umbrella of Adecco Group, co-founder and CEO Jake Schwartz said in a statement. Schwartz will remain at the helm of the company, reporting to Sergio Picarelli on Adecco’s executive committee, Jonathan Shieber adds at TechCrunch.
Joining the European conglomerate is “not an ignominious outcome for General Assembly,” Shieber comments, “but not the exit that many in the New York tech ecosystem had hoped for”:
The value of a college degree has been called into question in recent years, partly because many of the most dependable jobs in today’s economy are technical roles that employees can prepare for through alternative education; IBM CEO Ginni Rometty has begun speaking of “new collar” employees who she expects to perform many new, high-tech roles that don’t necessarily require an advanced degree.
In the meantime, alternative forms of education like online programs and coding bootcamps are producing an ever-greater number of candidates who may have the skills employers need, but not the diplomas they are looking for. “As such alternative forms of education become more common, Lauren Dixon wonders at Talent Economy, “what will it take for recruiters to equate the credibility of skills earned through these new platforms with those earned through more conventional education?”
By requiring a college degree for many roles, employers might be limiting their candidate pool too much, leading to today’s persistent skills gap. … “When you only recruit from the same pools that you’ve traditionally recruited from, obviously the supply there is not sufficient to cover the demand,” said Kieran Luke, general manager of credentials at General Assembly, a global education company specializing in in-demand skills based in New York.