MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA--(Marketwired - Aug 4, 2015) - Coursera launches the Global Skills Initiative, a new program aimed at bringing top companies and universities together to advance access to job-relevant skills around the world. Coursera's initial program collaborators, BNY Mellon, Cisco, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Splunk, and UBS, will each work with one of Coursera's university partners to produce online courses in their fields of expertise.

Coursera's Global Skills Initiative was created to address the challenges of finding and developing top talent in today's fast-paced economy. According to a 2014 ManpowerGroup survey, 40 percent of employers in the U.S. and 36 percent of employers globally report difficulty filling jobs. The disconnect between what workers know and what skills they are hired for is a prevalent issue. Guided by Coursera's market research and analysis of global labor market trends, the Global Skills Initiative accelerates the feedback loop between employers and universities.

"The Global Skills Initiative brings together the knowledge of industry leaders and the world-class teaching and academic research of top universities to create highly applicable curricular material," said Rick Levin, CEO of Coursera. "These collaborations enable companies to grow the global pool of available talent in their respective industries, giving unprecedented numbers of high potential individuals the opportunity to develop job-relevant skills."

Through the Global Skills Initiative, universities and industry leading companies work together to create a Specialization, a series of courses teaching a particular skill area that ends with a real-world Capstone Project. After identifying a high demand content area, companies are paired with a Coursera partner university that is responsible for the academic expertise, creation of course materials, and the overall learner experience for the new Specialization. Companies contribute by providing applied projects, guest lectures, case studies, and other materials that incorporate industry expertise into the course content. They also provide funding to the universities for content production costs.

The result of these university-corporate collaborations is unprecedented open access for an unlimited number of learners to online courses directly applicable to today's fastest-growing careers. Participating companies also plan to use these Specializations to expand their hiring pools to top performers (with the consent of learners) and enhance their internal employee training.

"Through Coursera's Global Skills Initiative, we're partnering with a top university to provide the world with high-demand, job-relevant skills that we value and prioritize here at Cisco, merging the expertise of best-in-class academics and world-class industry professionals," said Fran Katsoudas, Cisco's Chief People Officer. "This will allow us to grow our pool of qualified talent on a global, massive scale in the skills that matter most to our organization, while opening a global recruitment pipeline that sources top talent from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection."

Coursera is working with universities on proposals to develop Specializations in collaboration with Cisco for Security, Microsoft for Big Data, and UBS for Investment Management. Companies that have already been paired with a university partner include the following:

  • BNY Mellon, a global investment firm, collaborated with the University of Melbourne to create the first Global Skills Initiative Specialization, Essentials of Corporate Financial Analysis and Decision Making, available to enroll in now.
  • Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated and a leading mobile technology provider, is sponsoring the University of California, San Diego's Qualcomm Institute to create a Specialization on the Internet of Things (IoT) starting in the fall.
  • Splunk, a leading provider of big data software for real-time Operational Intelligence, is sponsoring the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UC San Diego in the creation of a Specialization in Big Data starting in September.

"This collaboration with BNY Mellon has provided the Faculty with a unique opportunity to develop a curriculum that is inherently practical and applied," said Professor Paul Kofman, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Melbourne, which has a globally top-ranked finance program. "It draws on the strengths of the Faculty's expertise and has given us the chance to demonstrate corporate decision making principles to an engaged cohort of learners drawn from BNY Mellon's vast network of global financial experts."

"The technical skill sets that students need to be competitive in the world today are changing at a breakneck pace," said Jeff Elman, University of California, San Diego's director of the Office for Online and Technology Enhanced Education. "We believe that online technology will permit us to be agile and responsive to students' needs for cutting edge skills. The UC San Diego collaborations with Qualcomm and Splunk facilitated by Coursera will allow us to offer high quality, professionally-oriented Specializations that will benefit both the students in those courses, and those employers who need an increasingly sophisticated and highly trained workforce."

The impact of the Global Skills Initiative will be truly international with over 70 percent of Coursera's 14 million registered learners already coming from outside of the U.S. and one third from emerging economies. Each Specialization developed as part of the Global Skills Initiative is expected to reach hundreds of thousands of people per year and will be translated into several languages including Chinese, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Coursera is seeking to collaborate with more companies to help bring relevant, accessible education opportunities to people worldwide. For more information on the Coursera Global Skills Initiative, including how to collaborate with one of Coursera's university partners, visit

About Coursera
Take free online classes from 120+ top universities and educational organizations. Coursera partners with schools like Stanford, Yale, Princeton, and others to offer courses in dozens of topics, from computer science to teaching and beyond. Whether you are pursuing a passion or looking to advance your career, Coursera provides open online education for everyone.
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