Udemy’s Bill O’Shea on the need for accessible learning
“Over the last 18 months, we’ve faced huge challenges - all of us - across our personal and professional lives”, says Bill O’Shea, EMEA Vice President at Udemy. “If I reflect a little bit on my own life, I don’t think I’ve ever had a period where there has been so much change. As a leader in a company like Udemy, where our foundation is learning, I really believe, change is also an opportunity to learn.”
Bill O’Shea spent 21 years working for Dell across the UK, the Netherlands and his native Ireland followed by 4 years at Qualtrics. Then two years ago he joined Udemy, a leading online marketplace for learning founded in 2010.
“As of June 2021, we have over 183,000 courses”, continues O’Shea, “44mn learners and 65,000 instructors across the globe. In 2020, we saw almost 11bn minutes of learning on Udemy - we’re really proud of that!”
Robert Walters partnership
The Udemy Business organisation was created approximately six years ago and, to date, Udemy Business has built up a portfolio of over 8,600 enterprise customers across the globe. [Udemy has just entered into a partnership with Robert Walters Group to help them accelerate their transformation from a learning development perspective.]
“I'm really proud to work with the Robert Walters Group and they've been a highly engaged customer from the start of our partnership. They're the kind of customers that are always easiest to work with. The Robert Walters Group wanted to provide their technical data engineering and analytics teams with the best training possible. It's been a really good journey so far and lots to come.”
A global e-learning platform
“Our Udemy Business content consists of a carefully curated selection of courses from our marketplace”, explains O’Shea. “There are over 11,000 professional courses on the Udemy Business side of the house. Over 6,000 of these courses are in English, with additional courses in other languages including French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Arabic, Mandarin, Turkish and Indonesian. These include courses on technical skills, business skills and soft skills.”
Udemy has been impacted by the pandemic, as many people have used the lockdown as an opportunity for accessible learning.
“We believe we have our finger on the pulse in regards to customer trends”, says O’Shea. “We’ve seen an increase in enrollments in both the consumer business and enterprise side of the house. We believe these trends illustrate a need for learning and a need for accessible, flexible learning. Previous to the pandemic we had already seen a movement towards online learning. The pandemic has only accelerated this and we believe we have entered an era of personal and professional change. A lot of companies have turned to Udemy Business to help their workforce meet that new reality of working remotely. We believe that continuous learning is going to be table stakes for the modern world, and that we have the best business model to satisfy the learners of today and of tomorrow.”
“Over 2020 and up to now, there’s been no shortage of learning moments for us all”, says O’Shea. “In supporting our own individuals through these difficult challenges at Udemy, we’ve established new ways of making the working world welcoming and productive.”
Over the pandemic period, mental health support has been discussed more openly.
“Supporting the mental health and wellness of our employees is very important”, says O’Shea. “Historically in the working world, mental health hasn't been widely discussed, but over the last year, this topic has rightfully come to the fore. We actually saw the
consumption of courses around stress management increase by over 1000%.”