The “Netflix” of professional technology learning is now offering its library of training courses free to Army Reservists, veterans and their families. The deal is being offered thanks to a collaboration with the U.S. Army Reserve Private Public Partnership Office and the Chief of the Army Reserve.
Blake Hunsaker, Pluralsight’s vice president of government programs, said the goal of the program is to make it sustainable. Besides getting free access through July 31, army reservists, veterans, and their families will also be able to take advantage of a half-price, one-year subscription to Pluralsight for the foreseeable future.
Pluralsight calls its library the world’s largest curated professional development platform, with courses designed for software developers, IT specialists, and digital creatives. The collection includes 4,000 videos available on-demand, whenever and wherever a user wants to view them. To help make sense of such volume, Pluralsight outlines a number of pathways that guide people through a sequence of videos on a single topic in an order that helps them naturally build on newly acquired skills.
The partnership with the U.S. Army Reserve offices does not include any compensation to Pluralsight for opening its training library. Hunsaker said he knows that means hundreds of thousands of people could potentially visit pluralsight.com/USAR for free access before July 31, but that’s what he hopes happens.
A major benefit of the Pluralsight model is its scalability. “If we add 5,000 or 10,000 people, it’s just a matter of scaling within our own system,” Hunsaker said. “We don’t have to hire more teachers, we don’t have to have more classrooms.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that more than half a million veterans are unemployed. The ones who sign up for this free tech training from Pluralsight could find themselves with marketable skills for a new career. People with tech skills, especially developers, are in high demand right now.
Yinon Weiss is an Iraq war veteran and the CEO and co-founder of RallyPoint, a professional networking site for veterans and service members. He said he interviewed a developer for his software company who had five job interviews in the same week, and Weiss expected he would get five job offers. The number of veterans in his applicant pool, however, is virtually always zero.
“I would love to hire a military person who was trained to write code, but either they don’t exist or there are so few of them that we have never found one,” Weiss said.
Code.org predicts 1 million computer science jobs will go unfilled by 2020. Adecco Engineering and Technology, a staffing and recruitment company, takes that number to 2.4 million for STEM fields more generally. Overall, Adecco Vice President of Recruiting and Delivery Jesse Wright calculates an average of 3.6 unemployed individuals for every one job listing. But for STEM fields, there is one unemployed person for every two listings, he said.
Much of Pluralsight’s library helps people prepare for industry certification tests that lead to well-paying, full-time jobs. The certification, and sometimes even Pluralsight transcripts alone, give job-seekers the chance to differentiate themselves in an employment interview and prove they have the skills to be there. Hunsaker expects reservists and veterans to take advantage of Pluralsight’s entry-level software development training program during the free access period. That’s where he says there’s a gap in the marketplace and where many military skills can be transferred to civilian jobs.
Once the skills are there, Wright points to a range of other benefits to hiring veterans — they have experience with cutting-edge military technology and they bring a global perspective to their work, to start.
"And if that isn't enough to convince you," Wright said, "let’s not forget that veterans are natural leaders, respect authority and direction, work extremely well under pressure, appreciate diversity, and have a sense of comradery and teamwork that only the military can cultivate."
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