Not Placement Rates in Education, Quality Rates in Workforce Acceleration


Today, Inside Higher Ed ran an article about the importance of transparency in skills training and continuing education. The question this article raises is an important one, which is how to measure the efficacy of skills-based training programs.   

To put this in context, it helps to understand the problem we’re solving. Today’s workforce is in the midst of an enormous transformation. There is no corner of the economy that is untouched by technology. That’s a good thing, in that it creates new professional opportunities, but it’s also causing real skilled labor shortages. At this moment, there are more than 553,000 open computing jobs nationwide, but only 49,000 computer science students graduating each year. By 2020, there will be 1.4 million more software development jobs than applicants who will fill them. At the same time, working adults are anxious to acquire the digital skills to catch up, keep up, and get ahead in a fast-changing economy.

Trilogy is a Workforce Accelerator

Our mission is to help professionals develop the skills they need to thrive in the digital economy. Through our 34 university partnerships, we offer adult learners the opportunity to re-skill and reposition their career trajectories with intensive training. As I’ve previously written, universities have a long tradition of innovation in learning.  From the university brand, to the alumni network, to the culture of rigor and assessment, a university affiliation brings powerful gains for a student. For this reason, we believe that universities are the best destination for lifelong learning.

With the academic oversight of our university partners, we work tirelessly to make sure each and every student gets the best learning experience possible from our programs. Efficacy is impossible without quality.

Here’s How We Power a High-Quality Educational Experience Across Hundreds of Classes:

Trilogy has developed a proprietary approach that allows us to calibrate each training program to market demand. Each lesson is specifically built to provide our students with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to be competitive in their local market.

We’ve designed our own learning platform and quality analytics systems to create a consistent educational experience across hundreds of classes. Students attending class at each of our university partners can expect a tremendous level of quality, attention, and support. Since we first began, we collected over 120,000 feedback forms and made over 7,000 curriculum enhancements based on student and instructor insight.

Trilogy employs over 500 instructors and TAs chosen for their ability to connect, motivate, and support students. In the last year alone, we screened over 30,000 candidates and hired just 2.5% to be brought on as Instructors and TAs.

In addition to classroom instruction, each Trilogy program includes career-planning services, portfolio reviews, employer events like tech talks and project demo days. We’ve built relationships with more than 1,500 hiring partners including IBM, GE, and Bank of America, and we’ve run more than 250 career events across the country.

Every program has complete university oversight and meets standards of academic rigor and results, from the curriculum to the instructors. Trilogy meets with its university partners bi-weekly to work together to optimize programs, refine the curricula, and more.

What We’ve Accomplished

We’ve served over 10,000 students in the last two years. Students come to our university programs from all walks of life and from all stages of their career. The vast majority of students are working professionals, who are continuing to support themselves while also investing in their professional development. Some come to our partners’ programs to get to the next level in their career. Some want to start a new business, and some want to find a new job.  We take seriously the investment each student makes in being a part of our programs, and are proud of the successes and the work we are doing. Each day, we hear from students who describe their learning experiences with us as “life-changing,” “a blast,” and “the best decision” of their lives.

To get to these outcomes, we invest time to make sure our students know exactly what to expect when they walk onto a university partner’s campus. We want them to know that yes, a life-changing career path is possible, but it will take work. And for this reason we make clear to each student the demands of our programs. We tell students early and often about the hundreds of hours of work, the long nights, the missed weekends, and the months of challenge and frustration they are in for.

Which brings us to the question of the measurability of outcomes. We measure countless student outcomes, including how students are performing in classwork, group projects, and assessments. We measure how confidently they are absorbing the curriculum and whether they require additional help through tutoring or support services. We measure the opportunities and needs of the employer community at any given time through countless interactions. And we measure whether students are achieving their diverse and varied goals.

We share this data with our university partners, and we also learn from the data to the extent that there are areas we can improve.  We do not, however, use outcomes data to market to prospective students or to boast about our success to the industry at large. As we’ve seen in the past, in the bootcamp space, using outcome data as a marketing tool is a slippery slope. It overshadows the reality that aspiring students have to prepare for: there are no shortcuts to transforming your career. Real career transformation takes hard work and long effort.

Do we have results we’re proud of? We do. But our goal is to shift the industry conversation away from the near-term win to a long-term conversation. Our work ahead is about transforming the workforce.

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Dan Sommer is the Founder and former CEO of Trilogy Education, the world’s leading workforce accelerator. Trilogy has rapidly grown under Dan’s leadership since its launch in 2015, empowering 50 top universities to upskill over 20,000 working adults in high-demand tech fields and closing the digital skills gap for over 2,000 companies globally. Prior to founding Trilogy, Dan served as Zeta Interactive’s President of Global Education where he led the company’s growth and expansion within the education sector. Prior to Zeta, Dan served as CEO and Chairman of Study Interactive, an Innovative International ‘School as a Service’ provider that partners with International Universities to bring their programs online. Dan is a graduate of Cornell University and remains an active alumnus. He led the creation and development of Student Agencies eLab, an accelerator serving high potential Cornell University entrepreneurs.


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