Best MOOCs from World-Class Institutions for the Biggest Skills Gaps

The “skills gap” isn’t just one thing; it’s an umbrella term used to encompass any area where employers are having trouble finding qualified employees to fill open positions. In an article for Talent Culture, Spark Hire Founder and CEO Josh Tolan identified five main areas where skills gaps exist. We decided to explore how well MOOCs could help employers—and job seekers—bridge the biggest skills gaps. We’ve also included specific course offerings from some of the best-known universities in the world, specifically mapped to the following five main skills gap.

1. Digital Media Skills

More than three-quarters of companies report that a digital skills gap is preventing them from adapting to new digital trends. It’s pretty safe to say that MOOCs have digital skills covered in spades. Specific digital media courses include Social Media and Digital Media courses offered via Canvas, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Digital Marketing Specialization course series and Northwestern University’s Fundamentals of Digital Image and Video Processing on Coursera.

2. Soft Skills

Close to one-half of employers find that employees are lacking soft skills like communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. These are often considered some of the most difficult skills to train, but MOOCs are taking a stab at it. Here are a few: Stanford University’s Crash Course on Creativity and Decision Skills: Power Tools to Build Your Life from NovoEd, Michigan State University’s Developing an Entrepreneurial Mindset and Penn State’s Creativity, Innovation, and Change on Coursera, and the self-paced Corporate Communication course from Saylor.

3. Marketing Skills

Business is another area where MOOCs are flourishing. Marketing-specific MOOCs include An Introduction to Marketing from the renowned UPenn Wharton School of Business on Coursera, University of Southampton’s Digital Marketing: Challenges and Insights on FutureLearn, and Services Marketing: Selling the Invisible on OpenLearning.

4. Skilled Trades

OK, this might be a tough sell for MOOCs, since trades are primarily learned hands-on through traditional apprenticeship-based models. However, many trades industries are starting to experiment with MOOCs and other forms of eLearning for parts of their training programs. Alison currently offers a  self-paced Intro to Plumbing Pipes and Fixtures course and a comprehensive Diploma in Carpentry Studies program for free. Udemy also has a handful of courses covering topics like Irrigation Installation, Fiber Glass Installation, and more.

5. STEM Skills

MOOCs might be of most help when it comes to this category as STEM skills continue to remain in high demand. Computer and data sciences, software, math, and life science courses are abundantly available on virtually all MOOC platforms. Higher Ed MOOC platforms like Coursera and edX also feature a wide variety of MOOCs in the natural sciences and other science specializations.

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