It’s not surprising if you have never heard of the learning and development startup Pluralsight. Hailing from the Silicon Slopes of Utah and focusing in just one vertical: IT, it is probably under many people’s radar.
The senior management at Tesco, one of the UK’s largest supermarket chains, had never heard of the platform. That was until some of its Indian IT team started asking for Tesco to pay for licenses. It turned out they were already paying for access to courses out of their own pocket.
According to Pluralsight this is a regular occurrence: developers at large enterprises using the platform on their own time and money.
How does it work?
Pluralsight is a cloud-based platform with more than 5,000 video courses across a range of technical skills and proficiencies, from Angular to XML. Technical courses are broken up across seven specialities: software development, IT ops, data, creative industries, business, manufacturing and design, architecture and construction.
Each technical tutorial is authored by an expert in the field who is paid commission depending on how often the video is viewed. Pluralsight claims to have more than 800 authors, some of whom apparently earn millions of dollars in commission every year, with the average being between forty and fifty thousand dollars a year.
Pluralsight joined Utah’s herd of tech unicorns after completing a massive $135 million (£94m) Series B funding round in August 2014, putting the company very close to a $1 billion valuation.
Julian Wragg, director of sales EMEA at Pluralsight, says: “[Tesco wanted] to find ways to quickly up-skill their IT staff worldwide. They wanted a consistent global solution.” By having team members already engaging with the platform, the task of getting employee buy-in was that much easier.
Luke Fairless, technology director for security programme and capability at Tesco, says that the biggest advantage of giving employees Pluralsight access from their workstation has been: “Having the ability to go and learn more about a topic from a creditable source, working through it at [their] own pace.”
Fairless admits that the usage of the tool has levelled-off a little since implementation though, especially in the less tech-focused roles. “Usage of the tool dropped off, particularly with non-engineers,” he says.
Tesco's solution has been quite a traditional one, namely refreshing the team's awareness of the tool. “We have worked with Pluralsight to regain the momentum and bring it to the front of people’s minds by hosting lunch and learn sessions,” Fairless said.
Changing learning habits
Wragg says that organisations are moving away from traditional ways of learning. His job is to help organisations "adapt to a culture of continuous learning".
"We have developed content in such a way that they can find the subject they need, do some learning for thirty minutes and solve a problem, all while they are working,” he says.
“Companies like Tesco moving away from structured learning and sticking someone in a classroom. The idea that people sitting at their desktop learning, when they should be working, goes out the window. People use Google if they are stuck with a problem. IT simply go into Pluralsight.
“Companies are recognising that’s how people are working now. Learning is not separate.”
Pluralsight is available to individuals and for organisations. The enterprise deployment includes analytics, single sign on and licence management. For individuals it is $299 (£209) a year and $499 (£348) for premium, which has offline viewing, learning checks and completion certificates.
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