Justine Chiou: The pandemic has forced the global education system to really rethink how it operates. Everything from how and when to learn, and how to deliver it, all the way to how to get the right content in the hands of teachers and students, and to think about how pedagogy really works in a remote environment. Furthermore, there's been a lot of challenges that have been exacerbated by COVID as well as the related recession. Everything from cost efficiency, efficacy, equal access, all of these issues have been exacerbated and are really forcing the industry as a whole to figure out how to solve that. In today's environment we're seeing a lot of legacy models embrace change a lot more quickly to think about how to maybe embrace innovation better to find more effective ways to deliver to learners. One challenge we're facing globally, which is critical to our economy, is how to train a more flexible, work-ready labor force. This has already been a huge issue for the economy, but given everything going on with COVID-19 and the attendant recession, it's become forefront for a lot of the folks who play within this ecosystem.
It's become starkly clear that we need better ways to reskill and upskill employees from the jobs that might not be available anymore, to the jobs that exist and are looking for people to fill those roles. The workforce readiness market is massive. Estimates have it at over $30 billion of annual spend.
This is a market that's proving especially inefficient or ripe for change. Just the idea that as young person you would go to a four-year, two-year college, or technical training that would set you up for the rest of your life just really doesn't apply anymore. The half-life of skills, as we think about it, continues to shorten, and as a result workers are expected to be lifelong learners in the sense that they continue to be trained and upskilled for the jobs that are available or even their existing jobs as they continue to evolve. This is a very complex ecosystem, but we've seen two players in particular that participate in the space continue to get more aggressive and really innovative as they're tackling a lot of these challenges. We see employers themselves taking a much bigger role in providing guidance, career paths and training, and tuition assistance on behalf of their employees.
We're also seeing the emergence of really innovative business models driven by staffing companies and consulting firms that are vertically integrating the entire workforce development chain from start to finish in a way that's really scalable.
I think for many of us it feels that the world and especially the education industry is very much in turmoil. However, COVID has forced an industry that's been traditionally really reluctant to change to have to embrace experimentation and innovation. I'd like to think that all the work that's being done now will eventually lead us further down the path to a much more effective, efficient, and equitable system.