Online learning provider Coursera is scoring a big Federal sector win by making its services available – via an agreement with immixGroup – to the General Services Administration (GSA) Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) to help with Federal government employee reskilling efforts.

“We are excited to announce an agreement with immixGroup to add Coursera to its [GSA MAS] contract,” said Kevin Mills, Coursera’s Head of Government Partnerships, in a statement.

“Now, at a time when reskilling is mission-critical, Federal agencies can streamline the deployment of high-quality online learning with Coursera,” he said. “Qualifying state, local, and tribal governments can also sign up for Coursera through immixGroup’s MAS Information Technology contract, which provides agencies with innovative technology solutions from over 4,600 pre-vetted vendors.”

“We’re happy to report that [our services] will be much easier to purchase,” under the GSA MAS, Mills said. He said much of the Federal sector up to now has “gone through the arduous process of single-source justification and others to hire Coursera, and we’ve worked over the last year to get on the schedule to make it much easier for these public partners to hire us.”

Pandemic-Driven Market Demand

Founded in 2012, Coursera is an online learning platform that connects learners, educators, and institutions. To maximize the learning platform, Coursera not only identifies emerging jobs in the technology field, but also what skills are needed to excel in those areas. The courses provided by the platform are delivered online and interactive through virtual learning that focused primarily on business, technology, data science, and health.

With the COVID-19 pandemic altering the way the Federal government does business, the company identified an urgent need to train and reskill Federal employees in a virtual setting.

“There was a massive push to online and Coursera was one of the leading beneficiaries of that growth,” Mills said. “We added 26 million new learners just since mid-March when the pandemic really started heating up, and we actually saw the biggest growth in our government learner base – we saw that expand by almost 900 percent.”

While the pandemic was drastically changing the way institutions and agencies conducted business, Coursera was working to meet the needs of the evolving workforce. In March, Coursera launched the Campus Response Initiative which helped 3,700 institutions gain access to free online training courses.

Then in April, the company launched the Workforce Recovery Initiative which made its Coursera for Government platform free to any government in the world that would then make it available to their displaced or unemployed workers. The Workforce Recovery Initiative has helped over 100 countries and  30 U.S. states deal with what Mills called “double disruption” caused not only by COVID-19 but also by the increased pace of automation.

“COVID was not a blip, it was an accelerant and [organizations] are fully leaning in to digital and online learning with Coursera as a primary partner in doing that,” Mills said.

Despite the accelerated digital transformation taking place, Mills said he still believes organizations may be discounting the velocity of that change. “I think a lot underestimate the speed of the digital transformation impacting their organization,” Mills said. “They know it’s coming, but the speed at which it’s coming is very rapid and they need a solution now that will help them prepare for that.”

Through immixGroup’s MAS IT contract, Coursera will be able to provide virtual training to more Federal entities along the lines of the work it’s already doing with the Defense Department’s (DoD) Defense Acquisition Academy.

“One of our earliest customers was Defense Acquisition University. They serve the 170,000 acquisition professionals in the DoD that need to ensure that our defense systems are at the very top of the line and most competitive,” Mills said. “They’ve led a major upskilling around digital engineering, AI, and machine learning, and they’ve hired Coursera to do that. Over the last three years, we continue to grow with them and they see us as one of their most trusted partners as they really reimagine upskilling across our organization.”

For a crash course on digital transformation and reskilling for Federal agencies, watch Coursera’s recent webinar and visit the company’s website to view the full blog announcement.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.