The Employer Potential of MOOCs

By Betsy Prueter
A recent report from RTI International and Duke University shows results from an online survey of 398 North Carolina employers regarding their knowledge and experience with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Data from the survey was combined with follow-up phone interviews and revealed that while a majority of employers had not yet heard of MOOCs, they responded very positively to the potential of MOOCs in their recruiting and hiring decisions. Respondents also indicated an interest in using MOOCs as part of their professional development training.

Among the survey’s findings:

  • Only 31% of employers had heard of MOOCs at the time of the survey.
    • Employers in the education, business, and communication fields were much more likely to have heard of MOOCs than were employers in finance, retail, or public administration.
  • Only one employer surveyed reported actually using a MOOC for recruitment, but 57% reported they could see themselves using MOOCs for recruitment.
    • Receptivity was particularly high from employers in the fields of business, communications, and manufacturing.
    • Organizations noted that due to increased competition in the workforce, MOOCs might be useful in exposing them to talented and experienced candidates.
  • 73% of employers viewed MOOCs positively with respect to their potential influence in hiring applicants who had taken job-related MOOCs.
    • Receptivity was particularly high from employers in the fields of business, communications, and education.
    • Employers noted that taking and completing MOOCs could be a sign of motivation among candidates.
  • More than three-quarters of employers surveyed had used, considered using, or could see their organizations using MOOCs for professional development. Receptivity spanned all industries, but was particularly high among tech companies.
    • In follow up interviews, organizations spoke to the need for highly specialized and technical MOOCs that could fill employee skill gaps.
    • Other organizations indicated a need for leadership and management MOOCs for employees.