Postmates, edX partnership reskills workers for digital economy

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Some Postmates employees can use their quarantined summer to learn new skills, thanks to a partnership that provides free virtual classes to Postmates' Fleet workers.

The delivery company partnered with edX, an online learning platform, to provide independent contractors access to edX’s entire learning catalogue. Through the partnership, Postmates' Fleet workers have an opportunity to further their knowledge amid the coronavirus pandemic and a changing economy.

“In the United States, the narrative we have is the digital economy displacing workers who are lower educated or in lower skilled jobs and replacing them with automation,” says edX co-CEO Adam Medros. “This creates a need for those workers to evolve to digital, IT and data-driven jobs.”

In 2018, the World Economic Forum predicted that 1.4 million people will lose their jobs by 2026 due to technological advances. Access to corporate learning can help reskill workers for the evolving digital world, Medros says.

The partnership with edX provides Postmates’ on-demand Fleet workers access to more than 2,800 classes, taught by organizations like Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Microsoft. edX For Business currently partners with over 1,000 firms to provide corporate learning opportunities on different scales. Some firms offer employees only a few key subject-based courses, while others, like Postmates’ Fleet, have access to the entire edX catalogue.

“edX allows us to reach learners in all communities and provide really excellent quality courses from top-tier institutions,” says Rachel Kamen, social impact and community engagement leader at Postmates. “It’s an incredible education benefit to our Fleet for them to learn at their own convenience.”

The most popular classes were courses that focused on project management, health, entrepreneurship, Python and business English. Upon completion of courses, members receive a Verified Certificate of completion. Postmates covers the cost of the certificates, which range from $50 to $200.

“Education is a modern safety net as the future of the workforce rapidly evolves,” Kamen says. “At Postmates, it's important to make sure that there's a solution, or a resource or a program for the day-to-day challenges that we're all facing.”

While the program was established last August, the partnership has proved crucial to Postmates’ Fleet members during the crisis 一 in February, only 14 were enrolled in edX courses. The number jumped to 126 by late June. Kamen says that the benefits of the partnership were amplified during the pandemic because workers could learn safely at home, and many had extra time to dedicate to classes.

Many employees are taking advantage of downtime: in March and April, employees spent 130% more time learning new professional skills than before the pandemic hit, according to LinkedIn’s “Leading with Learning” report. The report also found that 64% of learning and development professionals said that reskilling their workforce is a priority.

For Medros, corporate learning ties into firm social responsibility measures. He sees opportunities to reskill workers for the digital revolution as not only an economic imperative, but a moral imperative.

“There is societal impact that businesses now increasingly take into account when they think about initiatives around their employees,” Medros says. “Companies should be thinking about their corporate social responsibility initiatives as not only external but also internal.”

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