In today's dynamic world of work, continuous learning has emerged as a critical determinant of success. The workplace is undergoing rapid transformations — literally. Many of today’s workers no longer work in a strict “place.” Rideshare drivers, solar panel technicians, personal grocery shoppers, and freelance furniture assembly laborers make up an increasing share of the workforce. In fact, deskless workers now make up a whopping 80% of the workforce. Yet mobile and deskless workers are often overlooked when it comes to career advancement and promotions. They frequently face barriers in accessing traditional training and development opportunities. Inclusive and accessible learning solutions ensure these workers have equal access to educational resources, equipping them to thrive in the evolving workplace and addressing a critical need for greater inclusivity and diversity within the organization.
We recently invested in SparkLearn, a Learning Experience Platform (LXP) seeking to shift this dynamic. We spoke with co-CEO of SparkLearn, Chad Udell, to learn more about the workforce training challenges they tackle and their vision for reshaping learning in both workplace and higher education contexts.
Tell us about SparkLearn.
SparkLearn is a mobile-first learning platform designed for deskless workers and the companies that employ them.
What is the big problem in education that your company is helping to solve?
The education landscape is often split between two extremes: expensive, complex, and unwieldy systems, or simple, underpowered solutions lacking essential features. That’s why SparkLearn resolved to provide an affordable, powerful product that eliminates gatekeeping and scales effectively. We're on a mission to make top-tier training software accessible to all companies — and their employees — through a consumer-friendly user experience coupled with cutting-edge analytics and management tools.
What first motivated you to build this company?
We've noticed that most training programs are built for a traditional office-bound staff. But there are now millions of workers who don't fit that model, and they need opportunities for learning and advancement too. So we set out to create a learning experience that’s accessible from anywhere via your phone, designed to be consumed in manageable segments, and that imparts relevant skills along the way. We also wanted this to be valuable for employers hoping to retain their frontline workers who are out in the field and unable to access traditional engagement, learning, and support programs.
What do you hope to accomplish through your partnership with the Accelerator at WGU Labs?
We want to better understand what types of companies and industries are most in need of this type of training for their workforce. We know that a fantastic outcome of investing in your employees via workplace education is increased retention and engagement, but we're looking for deeper insight into the types of companies and industries most in need of our product. Our collaboration with WGU Labs aims to validate and refine our go-to-market strategy, define our Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), and fine-tune the accompanying messaging to accelerate growth and traction. It's a partnership that promises to bring our innovative learning solution to even more organizations.
How do you see your company contributing to a more equitable learning landscape?
Deskless workers play a crucial role in our economy. Yet investment in their career growth and advancement is overlooked. More than 70% of frontline workers want to be promoted within their companies, but only 4% make it to corporate. And less than 1% of venture capital investments are directed toward companies that cater to deskless workers' technology needs. SparkLearn aims to level the playing field for mobile and deskless workers through flexible learning solutions that provide access to the same educational resources as their office-based counterparts. This not only bridges the knowledge gap but also empowers these employees with the tools they need to enhance their skills, ultimately giving them a fair shot at career growth and promotional opportunities that might otherwise have eluded them. To date, SparkLearn has helped over five hundred thousand deskless and mobile workers, leveraging adaptive algorithms that enable users to learn 40%faster while reducing their failure rates by 25%.
What are you most excited about for the future of learning?
I am most excited about the transformation of education for the future. The traditional classroom and academy models, which have been in place for centuries, have played a vital role in imparting foundational skills and fostering critical thinking and social and emotional learning. However, these models have also somewhat hindered innovation, particularly in the corporate learning space, where corporate universities and certificates became the norm during the third industrial revolution.
What truly excites me is the emergence of new, flexible learning models, the rise of microcredentials, the integration of mobile tools and platforms, and the burgeoning influence of artificial intelligence. These advancements signal that we are standing on the brink of a new era in education. The landscape of human education is evolving in every aspect, and it's exhilarating to see our contribution to this transformative journey.