Degreed: The new way to learn



To build a successful career in the fast-changing modern-day, one must acquire a full suite skill set. As so many trends come and go and with businesses moving faster than ever, opportunities won’t wait. To be a part of the future, one needs to keep an eye out for what is leading. This can only be obtained through adaptability, versatility and a continuous learning process. In which people can move between education and industry; gaining training and certifications, sharpening their knowledge, advancing their skills as they need them and ultimately make learning their competitive advantage.

David Blake and Eric Sharp knew workplace learning can be pretty painful. They believed there is no single path to expertise. So, in 2012, they started Degreed to enhance career-long learning. Since then, the company has grown to over 4+ million people at over 250+ organizations building the skills they need to invent the future. Degreed is headquartered in San Francisco, with additional offices in New York City, Salt Lake City, UT, and Leiden, the Netherlands.

“We want to make traditional L&D obsolete by demonstrating how effective and profitable it is to up-skill employees with Degreed,” says Chris McCarthy, CEO at Degreed.

In 2013 Chris McCarthy joined Degreed as CEO. His passion for education and learning started after he went to college and became the first freshman in school’s history to achieve the entrepreneurship award. However, the school policies restricted him from adjusting his class schedule to spend time in building that business. The fact that he also had a significant student loan to pay opened his eyes to the limitations posed by the education system. He dropped out of college and spent the next two years traveling and gaining experience in the real business world. He then decided that the best way for him to keep learning is to get into strategy consulting which would expose him to various industries as a sort of boot-camp for aspiring entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, due to the lack of a degree, none of the firms would hire him despite having all the skills and unique experiences to offer. He shares, “I ended up going back to a great school that let me piece together my degree through night classes, day classes, testing out of basic things, work experience, and transfer credit. I ended up finishing on time despite the two years off and got hired as a strategy consultant and had a great pre-MBA career. It was ultimately a good path, but an infuriating one.”

This experience, besides the insane student debt crisis in the country, led him to Degreed to incite change in the work culture. Degreed is the world’s leading work-force learning and skill-tracking platform. Their mission is to ‘jail-break the degree’ and gives today’s workforce career-long learning and continuous skill development. “Degreed is pushing the boundaries in workforce learning and up-skilling; teaming with inspired companies to give employees the skills they need to stay ahead in today’s tech-paced world,” shares McCarthy. “Our goal is to make sure no one, and I truly mean no one, in today’s workforce becomes irrelevant after a mere 5 years in the workforce, due to a lack of new skills.”

Chris McCarthy, CEO, Degreed

At Degreed, they believe the best way to do it is through cloud-based products as they are the only viable remedy for this day’s tech-driven business world. The company reasons the traditional training methods with mentors and coaches as it restricts the true growth potential and does not allow geniuses to emerge within the employee base. Also, the traditional (and expensive) high-school-to-college-to-job route may not be ideal for all students. Therefore, they offer learning platforms that are more familiar to people such as social media, crowdsourcing, news articles, etc. 

Degreed’s cloud-based learning and skills-building platform allows users to access any learning materials, from virtually any source, all in one location. The social-media-like learning platform helps workers learn in new ways, on the fly; using a myriad of sources such as books, online courses, articles, company-curated materials, team-curated materials, internally shared documents and more. As an employee explores those learnings, their progress and developing skills are tracked, measured, and communicated across their teams and managers. Simply put, they support innovative companies scrapping traditional L&D and evolve into something better.

Degreed apps for lifelong learning

McCarthy says their mission is their north star and it drives everything they do. “Degreed started with the belief that skills should be cultivated throughout an entire career; that an education spans beyond four-years of formal education,” adds McCarthy. “An education is a living, breathing thing. In today’s fast-paced tech-age, if the workforce is not learning every single day, it becomes obsolete. Seven years later, our original vision holds true as we change the way companies train their employees and future-proof their best assets – their people – for whatever is coming next in their careers.”

Boeing, Airbnb, Unilever, MasterCard, and other well-acclaimed companies use Degreed to close skill gaps and track the learning process of their employees. Every contract is uniquely crafted to address the specific needs of the respective client, the use cases and user numbers. “Some companies want skills certification (a specific up-skilling feature offered through Degreed), others want the Degreed platform to be branded with the client’s logo and have a customized user experience, and others have special requests as to where information and learnings are sourced. We have an amazing client experience team that ensures Degreed is a perfect fit for each of our customers,” shares McCarthy.

For their future aspirations, Degreed plans to target every company with a workforce and change the way every single company view learnings, training, and skills development for their people. “Our goal is that no worker is left behind; that no company falls short because they couldn’t keep up with new technology or trends,” says McCarthy.

As for McCarthy, he hopes that by the end of his career, people will be judged on the quality of their skills regardless of how they acquired them. “I hope that this culture of formal education being our one and only measuring stick for skills and learning will become obsolete and antiquated,” says McCarthy.  

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