Career Pathways and Social Media: LinkedIn's Learning Paths

Last year, LinkedIn purchased, an online learning platform, which just launched an initial offering of Learning Paths to, "Boost your skills. Stay Sharp. Get ahead".  

The 53 learning paths currently are a package of courses designed to help learners to begin a career, or advance in a current field.  For learners who aren't sure about which path to pursue, LinkedIn will make recommendations based on their interests, or which jobs are popular, according to the site Re/Code. By the end of 2016, the company plans to offer over 100 learning paths.

Each learning path takes 10 to 68 hours, depending on the skill, and users can quickly and easily display their completion on their LinkedIn profile.  According to LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner, “Our ultimate vision is to develop the world’s first economic graph….We want to digitally map the world’s economy, identifying the connections between people, companies, jobs, skills, higher educational organizations, and professional knowledge, and allow all forms of capital—intellectual capital, financial capital and human capital—to where it can best be leveraged.”

Unlike LinkedIn's social media platform, which is free for basic level service, these learning paths have an associated cost.  You can access a free trial and learn about pricing for access to these learning paths here.

Questions:  What do you think about LinkedIn's approach to connecting social media and career-related learning paths?  Is this something you think would be valuable for learners in your programs?  Is this a product that you think has value in creating career pathways opportunities for learners in your programs?  

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator


The movement toward  a gig economy  is forcing a change in the way career paths and professional education are structured. In the post-WWII economy, where people could expect to spend the majority of their working lives with a single company, the familiar educational model   -- college immediately after high school or military service, then a career in which the employer provided any additional training -- worked well enough.  Now, when some estimates say that current college graduates can expect to work at up to 10 or 12 companies during their working lives, the familiar model is no longer appropriate.  Responsibility for post-graduate career education shifts from an employer to the individual.
Relocating to a college town for four years is much less an issue for an 18-year-old than it is for an older adult with significant life and work experience. Among the barriers faced is that the academic, cultural, and other institutional structures are tuned for an 18- to 22-year-old demographic with limited life and work experience.  The commuter aspect of a community college can remove the "fish-out-of-water" feeling of not fitting in with the campus culture, but the course offerings may not be adequate to meet one's professional training needs, especially when one is not located in a major urban area.
I don't know how successful LinkedIn will be in its effort, but the underlying concept of creating a virtual lifetime employer (i.e., an industry or cluster of related industries rather than a specific company) for gig-economy professionals is intriguing.  For some industries, and for those who are self-motivated to take advantage of it, the Internet is already a one-stop shop for training, career advice and guidance from employers and  professionals in the field  in the field, and employment leads.  Having a professional network such as LinkedIn consolidate and expand these opportunities under one virtual roof can potentially improve this process dramatically.
For learners to take advantage of such a network, they would need to be self-motivated and capable of independent learning, have good computer skills, have almost 24/7 access to appropriate and reliable equipment and Internet access, and be able to physically meet with people who have the knowledge and skills needed to guide them through the process when necessary. This would require a significant change to the way adult education is generally provided.

There is a lot of talk about the Gig Economy, but let's define what the term means.  One definition is, " environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements".  

I found this Time article, titled "See How Big the Gig Economy Really Is", an interesting read for the numbers it provides from it poll of workers and employers.  The following is excerpted from the full article.

According to a first-of-its-kind poll from TIME, strategic communications and global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller and the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative, 44% of U.S. adults have participated in such transactions, playing the roles of lenders and borrowers, drivers and riders, hosts and guests. The number this represents, more than 90 million people, is greater than the number of Americans who identify, respectively, as Republicans or Democrats. (Poll figures exclude adults who are not Internet users.) 

The final line here really struck me. Poll figures exclude adults who are not Internet users.  How do you think this fact skews the numbers when thinking of the adult learners in our programs?  If the Gig Economy is really a growing trend in the workplace, how do we ensure that more of our learners are ready to become a part of it?  It sounds like digital literacy may be part of the answer!

Mike Cruse 

Whether or not legislation forces these types of companies such as Uber and Postmates to reclassify their workers as employees, their services fill a need and there will continue to be a demand for them.  In either case, adult learners would need a certain level of digital literacy in order to take advantage of these services as either providers or.
Questions that crossed my mind as I read the Time article are:  What happens to Postmates when the drone delivery systems being developed by Amazon, UPS, and FedeX are perfected? What happens to Uber when driverless cars become prevalent or, to move a bit into the realm of science fiction, when drones are capable of safely carrying passengers?  And, shifting to the traditional economy, what happens to fast food and fast casual restaurants when the robot capable of preparing a crab bisque as described in this article --  --  is capable of preparing their menus and more? Will these companies forced to choose between (1) replacing their drivers, delivery people, and staff with these technologies and (2) being forced out of business by companies that do make better use of them.
Another aspect of the gig economy is that because companies and jobs are no-longer for life, all workers are potentially in the same boat as those who do peer-to-peer work.  If every few years your job or company disappears, aren't you essentially working a series of extended gigs?
Because, as it has been often said, technological jobs will be replacing the non-technological jobs that are lost to it, adult learners will need to learn more than just basic digital literacy skills, but be on a path toward gaining the full spectrum of skills needed to be competitive in this new job market.


A recent series of article in The Atlantic covered aspects of the gig economy.  The Death of a Gig Worker covers the story of one gig worker killed on his bike courier job, and the plight of his family and friends, to change the coversation about how gig employers treat their gig workers.  

They want a union, starting at $20 per hour, benefits including hazard pay, and re-classification from independent contractors to W-2 employees.  The article notes that, “None of this appears likely to materialize—gig-economy companies have often brushed off similar demands in the past—but then, neither did the tomato workers’ demands back in Immokalee”.  This last part raises the question of what, if any, role adult education will play in helping workers advocate for change in the new, gig economy?  Do you see this as a similar plight of the tomato, and other agricultural workers, organizing for greater protections on the job?

Is this a topic that you would like to learn more about, and find resources to support your learners in their efforts?  If so, please let me know.


Mike Cruse  

Career Pathways Moderator


This brings to mind the plight of the adult basic education provider who often works multiple part-time jobs, with limited income and benefits and job security, and often (reluctantly in many cases) moves onto other  employment to ensure income-security for herself and her family.  

In the early 1990s, the Workplace Educator Collaborative (an informal network of adult educators developing more effective, collaborative approaches to worker basic education) noted the irony that, while they were trying to help American workers attain, succeed in, and advance in more-secure and -rewarding employment, they as adult educators did not generally have much prospect for such employment themselves.

Fast-forward 20-plus years:  Currently, the Labor and Workforce Development Issues Group of the Open Door Collective (  ) is revisiting this issue of how adult basic education -- in collaboration with other stakeholders concerned about the limited employment prospects of so many U.S. workers -- can help worker-learners develop relevant skills, knowledge, attitudes, and support-systems to successfully navigate both the challenges and opportunities of our current national (and international) economy.  

So, yes, this topic is -- and has been -- important in many ways!

Paul Jurmo. 

This has long been a problem, and continues to be (IMO) the main limiting factor for reaching the goal of meaningful work at livable wages for our adult learners.

I began my adventure in adult ed as a young K12 teacher who wanted to supplement my day job salary. Eventually, I was offered the rarest of the rare, a full-time job as an adult ed teacher. 

My role currently is as Training Specialist for SC Adult Education, but alas, because of financial situations for the state, my position is being eliminated by January 2019.

I love adult education, but now must find "meaningful work at livable wages" for myself, and prospects for staying in adult education are not promising.


Thank you for your post.