As an active reader and blogger, I’m a big fan of non-traditional forms of education.  Quora, Wikipedia, Kahn Academy, Udacity – I love it all.  I also spend a lot of time thinking about how to get more education to the people who need it most.  That got me to the topic of education and unemployment: two things that should go together perfectly!

The idea first came to me the week before last, when I was down in Baltimore having dinner with my parents (who are both small business owners).  We were throwing ideas back and forth about how to resolve the tension between a high unemployment rate and a shortage of qualified workers.  My dad ultimately came up with the best solution.

The idea for the business goes like this:

The company specializes in cloud-based, free, online education (accessible via a mobile app) and primarily serves two core customer segments:

1)   Companies seeking qualified workers
2)   Unemployed people

1) For Companies

Finding qualified employees has never been easy.  It’s not rare for a fast growing company to spend tens of thousands of dollars per employee on recruiting fees just to find the right people.  These companies know exactly what skills and abilities they want, but they still spend lots of time and effort finding people to hire.

What if these companies could sponsor a class that taught people the exact skills they need to succeed in their open roles?  If there’s a company that needs a lot of analysts, they could sponsor an analytics course.  If there’s a company that needs a lot of sales people, they could sponsor a sales course. And so on.  These “sponsored courses” would be custom built to prepare employees with the exact skills required for the job.

2) For Unemployed People

The value proposition to unemployed people (the students) is a cloud-based, free source of online education with classes that teach them exactly the right skills.  The courses would not be degree granting, but they would give the students direct access to potential employers.  Some students would end up getting hired by the company sponsoring the course.  Other students wouldn’t get hired, but they would still end up getting a free education, networking connections to their classmates, and feedback on their work.

Sponsoring corporations would also have full access to test results and homework assignments for their classes.  Bringing in candidates for a one-hour interview is great, but wouldn’t you get a better idea of their ability to do the job if you had access to an entire class’s worth of schoolwork that relates directly to the job you need done?

The whole thing would work a little bit like the baseball minor leagues or farm teams.  The major league scouts are always watching for the next standout player and the players that don’t get brought up to the big leagues still get the practice and experience of playing ball, which they can take with them to their next team.

What do you think?


New Business Idea: Education and Unemployment
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