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Creating opportunity through technology skill development

Aaron Skonnard
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Technology makes the impossible possible. It reshapes reality. It powers disruptive ideas. But not everyone has the opportunity to create with technology. While talent exists everywhere, opportunity is harder to come by. 

The more people who have access to tech skills, the more freedom and opportunity we’ll see for everyone. It could be the spark in unlocking human potential all over the world. And that’s what we’re creating with our social enterprise, Pluralsight One. It’s our commitment to driving lasting, significant social impact. 

We announced Pluralsight One a year ago, and since then we’ve been working hard. We conducted a global needs assessments, collecting surveys from over 1,000 organizations and piloting our platform with more than 40 nonprofit organization across 16 countries. We did this to understand how we can best help people achieve agency and self-reliance through technology. But before we could design solutions to close the technology skills gap, we needed to understand how our resources best map to the root causes driving this gap. 

Solving root causes

We are all acutely aware that technology is moving faster than ever––so fast, we can’t learn it as quickly as it evolves. Business and individuals are feeling the pressure to keep up as every company, in every industry, becomes a tech company. 

At the same time, there aren’t enough people with the right skills to fill the jobs that drive innovation. There are over 500,000 open technology jobs in the U.S. alone. 

One of the main problems we see is lack of accessibility and affordability in current education models. People who could be the solution to this skills gap and who need the opportunities that tech skills unlock simply don’t have access. Many of tomorrow’s changemakers lack access to basic necessities like healthcare, clean water, safety and quality education. A high tech education just isn’t within reach.

This holds us back in so many ways, and the opportunity divide is growing. According to McKinsey Global Institute, if current education trends continue, the global workforce will have at least a billion workers who lack secondary education by 2030. 

This sets us up to fail. 

How we build technology skills MUST change. Formal education is falling short and people aren’t learning tech skills early enough in life. The World Economic Forum estimates “65% of kids entering primary school today will end up working jobs that don’t exist yet.” This is a major barrier when you consider that only 40% of K-12 schools in the U.S. teach computer science. 

To make matters worse, diversity gaps also exist. In the U.S. alone, Women and minorities make up less than 20% of all computer science graduates, as stated by the National Center for Education Statistics. These barriers perpetuate a lack of diversity and inclusion, and are creating a larger and larger tech skills gap. 

It all comes down to this: It’s a matter of access not capability. Pluralsight is working to close the tech skills gap by solving the root cause of these problems. But what does this mean for all of you? 

It means that there are answers to closing the technology skills gap. And, as a global community we have the power, resources and skills necessary to solve it. 

Our mission and philosophy 

At Pluralsight, our mission is to democratize technology skills. To do this, we need a holistic solution that can’t be solved with our commercial business alone. The solution is our business plus social impact. Both pieces together are strategically and holistically important to reaching our mission, long-term. 

One of the best ways we can create impact is to partner with nonprofits and educators, because they are the ones being left behind in the midst of digital transformation. This is compounded because of the vital role that technology plays in creating opportunity, employability and progression.

Nonprofits understand technology is the superpower that can help them achieve their missions. We want to empower organizations around the world, because we know they are the experts at addressing the complex needs of the populations they serve. Think of the work we could do together with the technology tools needed to work better at a systems-level.

New products that create opportunity, level the playing field

We’ve already provided free access to our Tech Index, Skill IQ and now Role IQ. These free experiences enable equality and level the playing field by helping people benchmark their skills and keep up with emerging trends. 

And today, we’re introducing new ways we’re furthering our mission globally. 

First, I’m thrilled to announce we’re offering our platform to nonprofits at a steeply discounted rate. 

We’re creating opportunity and access by launching two new products, designed specifically for nonprofit professionals and their beneficiaries: Elevate and Amplify. 

The first, Elevate, enables capacity building for professionals at nonprofits. 

The second, Amplify, is for nonprofit professionals and the communities they support. 

With access to our platform, nonprofits can upskill, improve operational efficiency and educate their beneficiaries, while also measuring impact. These new products have an affordable pricing model that works at scale. Nonprofits can accelerate their missions through technology––and we can create lifelong learners, problem solvers and creators. 

We’re also working with computer science education leaders to co-create solutions that support educators and students. 

We’ve partnered with the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) to offer teachers free access to our platform to prepare for national computer science certification exams and learn new skills to bring back to the classroom. We’re partnering with Code.org to provide content that expands on what students learn in their Code.org AP Computer Science Principles course and to support initiatives that expand opportunities for girls and students of color across the K-12 learning lifecycle. Where Code.org’s curriculum ends, Pluralsight picks up with curated courses that help students bridge the concepts they’ve learned into professional skills.

Promoting change and investing for global impact

We’re also aligning our giving, advocacy and volunteering in ways that holistically support our mission––with an emphasis on expanding opportunity to learners who need it most.  

Pluralsight One Fund is providing a $1.5M grant over three years to help Code.org increase computer science participation among girls and students of color. Currently, 45% of students participating in Code.org’s platform are female and 48% are underrepresented minorities. The grant will also help grow Code.org’s resources for teachers and students and continue to develop curricula across K-12. Beyond that, funding will support Code.org’s international expansion to translate and localize its platform into 20+ different languages, so the organization can reach millions of more students.

Pluralsight One and Code.org will also collaborate on advocacy efforts in the state of Utah and throughout the U.S. to expand access to computer science education for all students. Building on those efforts, we’ll work with regional partners around the globe to implement programming and resources in response to identified priorities, gaps and needs. 

And when it comes to boots on the ground and volunteer efforts, Pluralsight will mobilize its employees to volunteer for Hour of Code and other skills-based volunteer initiatives. 

I’m so proud of the teamwork that has taken place to get here and excited for the important partnerships that will move this work forward. All of these initiatives combined are a giant leap forward in our mission.

The future for our mission

Imagine if we could make a huge dent in the technology skills gap.

Imagine if every nonprofit was empowered to advance their missions and build tech skills at scale. 

Imagine creating more technology talent in every industry, in every role. 

Sounds pretty incredible, right? We think so. 

But, we can’t do this by ourselves. We need a global coalition. It’s our customers that have made it possible for us to do this work. And we need YOU to help make this effort possible. 

Think about what environmental and social initiatives you and your companies have that are already trying to solve this. 

What if we came together? 

Join us in closing the tech skills gap

Pluralsight works hard to be your technology skills partner. Now we’re asking you to be our partner. The global technology skills gap is bigger than any of us, but together, we can solve it. Together, we can reach the entire globe. 

Tell your nonprofit partners and community leaders about Pluralsight One and encourage them to take advantage of our products. 

This is how we create freedom, equality and opportunity––through technology skills that can change lives and change the world. 

Visit pluralsightone.org to learn more. 

 

*Pluralsight One Fund is a corporate advised fund at Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity registered in the United States, EIN# 20-5205488.

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Aaron Skonnard

Aaron Skonnard is the CEO of Pluralsight (NASDAQ: PS), a fast-growing enterprise technology learning platform. Aaron cofounded Pluralsight... See more