LinkedIn Learning Evolves: Watch Out HR Tech Competitors – Skills, Careers, And More.

LinkedIn Learning has been one of the most fascinating success stories in HR Technology. It all started in 2015 when LinkedIn acquired, a pioneering provider of high-quality video learning designed for creative professionals.

I knew well before the acquisition, and when they became part of LinkedIn I had to ask myself “what does a recruiting and social networking company know about training?” Well as a fast-mover and customer-centric company, LinkedIn learned quickly. Not only did get fully integrated into the LinkedIn platform (it took a few years), the company built out a product team to focus on new topics, more advanced video experiences, and then quizzes, assessments, and more.

Many of us in the L&D tech market feel “privileged” to know so much about this complex space. Well LinkedIn learned fast, and over the years I met product managers and content leaders with passion, an open mind, and lots of aspiration. So while LinkedIn entered the L&D market “late” (Skillsoft, Coursera, Udemy, and others were established), they could see how big this market would become so they poured engineering, marketing and brainpower into the business.

Now in its eight year, LinkedIn Learning has become one of the biggest content players in the market. Today LinkedIn has 18,000 courses across 20+ languages, more than 16,000 corporate clients, hundreds of sales people (now integrated into the sales team for other LinkedIn talent products), and generates billions of dollars of revenue. In fact it’s unusual for me to talk with a company that does NOT use LinkedIn Learning for its employees.

The Corporate Learning Market Has Changed

For its first near-decade of growth, LinkedIn Learning was focused on content. This means adding more titles, increasing the level of collaboration and testing available, and enriching courses with more topics, more experts, and more hands-on experiences. LinkedIn now offers simulations, evaluations, and many forms of hands-on training in software engineering, data science, cloud engineering, cybersecurity and AI. And while this is a very competitive market, LinkedIn gets plenty of market share and has the benefit of leveraging its tight integration with Microsoft and vast network of LinkedIn Recruiter customers.

But as most of you know, the future of corporate learning is not “more content.” It’s “more relevance.” And this means, as our new research points out, giving employees (and organizations) the tools they need to grow. Career pathways, skills engines, and directed learning toward credentials and “capability academies” are the future.

I just finished a meeting with 15 chief learning officers at large banks and the number one topic was this: how do we leverage and extend our learning to create directed career paths, stronger internal mobility, and motivation for employees (and managers) to reskill themselves for our high growth jobs. This is not a ‘learning problem,” it’s a more complex problem of “helping individuals and the organization adapt and grow.”

So to meet this need, HR Tech vendors are now focused on more integrated solutions: Capability Academies, Talent Marketplace platforms, and better tools for skills inference and what we call Talent Intelligence. Where does LinkedIn play in all this?

Well surprise surprise: they’re launching a series of products to reach this new market. Yes, LinkedIn Learning is becoming an enterprise learning and career platform, not just a massive library of content.

Where LinkedIn Is Going

Let me describe LinkedIn Learning’s new enterprise platform in four areas:

1/ Skills.

First, the company is constantly refining and rationalizing its 39,000+ skills and tagging them to these courses. This means a company or employee can focus their learning paths along these skills and also understand the skills they need to achieve a specific career goal. This alone is a breakthrough: most learning libraries are not carefully tagged like this.

Today LinkedIn does not explicitly “sell” or promote its skills library as an offering, but it is built into the new integrated platform. (More on that topic later.)

2/ Career Paths.

Second, and even more importantly, LinkedIn now offers role-based career pathing with Role Guides that include role-based content, skills, and more – that are customizable to specific organizations. This includes a new feature that allows learners to set their career goals, take skill evaluations, and receive content recommendations tailored to their goals & skill gaps.

Our latest research on L&D, The Definitive Guide, discovered that “role growth” and “growth into new roles” have become the biggest impact drivers for training. Yes, people want to learn new skills, but companies want these skills to take them somewhere. LinkedIn now offers these pre-defined and customizable career paths right within the LinkedIn Learning platform. (LinkedIn’s new Workplace Learning Report found that employees under the age of 50 rank career growth above work/life balance when it comes to evaluating new opportunities.)

By the way, most companies put this function into their LMS or their Talent Marketplace tool, so now LinkedIn offers enterprise-class learning management functionality.

3/ Talent Marketplace.

There’s more: third, the system now operates as a Talent Marketplace. Yes, I’m not kidding. LinkedIn Learning lets companies expose internal jobs and projects (coming later) and enables you to promote internal mobility as part of your learning journey.

This is a very significant new feature. Not only does it make learning more relevant, but it meets the need for one of the biggest trends in HR: creating facilitated and employee-driven internal talent mobility. Watch out Gloat, Fuel50, Workday, and others. I have to believe companies will want to look at this.

And it gets better. Through LinkedIn’s connection to recruiters (also built in to LinkedIn), employees can ask “share” their interest in jobs within their company. This means recruiters and hiring managers can learning certificates and employee skills, along with their LinkedIn profile. (LinkedIn is going to offer project work and gigs later this year.)

4/ Professional Certificates.

The fourth “shoe to drop” is LinkedIn’s professional certifications. Unlike the “certificates” you get by completing a course, now LinkedIn is partnering with strategic vendors to offer assessment-based certifications. These are potentially powerful credentialing tools for any professional.  (We are building this capability for HR, by the way, in the Josh Bersin Academy.)

LinkedIn Learning Hub Goes Enterprise

These new features are all part of LinkedIn Learning Hub, the product designed to “open up” LinkedIn Learning to third party content and other functions.

What does this mean to L&D and HR buyers? It makes the market even more competitive. One of the hottest new spaces in HR is both the Talent Marketplace and Capability Academy markets. While these features are still new, I believe they move LinkedIn Learning from that of a “content offering” to a real “corporate learning and internal mobility solution.” And now that this new functionality is running, the new features will come faster.

I am a huge fan of vendors like Gloat, Eightfold, Fuel50, Nomadic, CoRise, Modal, Hone, Udemy, Guild Education, and many of the vendors I write about regularly. These innovators have built many features (job matching, cohort-based learning, mentoring, career pathways) that companies desperately need to adapt to the “skills-frenzy” going on in the economy.

LinkedIn, as a large and well established player, has now crossed the chasm from “recruiting and content company” to a much deeper enterprise solution. Through these new features to Learning Hub and the company’s deeper integration with Microsoft Viva and Teams, I see nothing but upside for LinkedIn ahead.

(PS. And who knows where Chat-GPT will play!)

Additional Information

A New Generation Of Mastery-Based Learning Platforms Has Arrived

The Talent Intelligence Primer

The Definitive Guide To Learning: Growth In The Flow Of Work

The Talent Marketplace Collection

Check Out The Josh Bersin Academy: The World’s Home For HR