How Salesforce’s Trailhead platform can help reskill workers – Business Insider - Freelance Rack

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Sunday, May 10, 2020

How Salesforce’s Trailhead platform can help reskill workers – Business Insider

  • As unemployment rate surges, free online learning tools like Salesforce’s Trailhead platform can help people gain new skills for tech roles that are still in high demand. 
  • In fact, Trailhead saw a 30 percent increase in traffic in March, Sarah Franklin, executive VP and GM of platform at Salesforce, told Business Insider.
  • Trailhead expands Salesforce’s ecosystem by offering both education and community, and it could even be key to helping Salesforce keep up customer momentum during this crisis, analysts say. 
  • It also benefits Salesforce by creating a pipeline of qualified candidates who can work in Salesforce related tech roles, either in the company or with partners and customers.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

As US unemployment surges to its highest rate since the Great Depression due to the coronavirus crisis, every industry is dealing with job losses. 

While the tech industry is not immune, many expect it to withstand the recession better than sectors, particularly companies that are benefiting from the shift to remote work, like enterprise cloud businesses. In fact, industry watchers and CEOs expect software to see increased demand even after things return to normal, which means that people with tech skills will be in high demand.

That provides a unique opportunity right now for free, online learning tools that could help people looking for more reliable work prepare for future tech roles. Salesforce’s Trailhead is one such platform, and the site has seen a 30% increase in traffic in March, according to Sarah Franklin, the executive who founded it.

“We’ve seen that as people are at home, they’re feeling the need to learn these tech skills and business skills and soft skills,” Franklin told Business Insider. “They’re wanting that human connection and that connection to an expert to help them learn.” 

While Trailhead started as a way for Salesforce employees to learn new tech, business, and soft skills, it has since expanded outside the company as a free platform for people to learn how to use Salesforce’s software. It also offers skills for using other software from the likes of Amazon and Google as well. As of March, 2 million learners had accounts on the platform. 

Beyond being a resource for education and community for people rethinking their careers, Trailhead could also help Salesforce keep up its own customer momentum during a time of economic uncertainty, experts say. 

Salesforce is rethinking education with Trailhead

The ultimate goal of Trailhead is to rethink career training and education and give people an easy way to learn new technology skills, Franklin said.

The tech industry has created a host of new jobs that higher education institutions don’t have specific curriculum around, like mobile app developer, business process automator, and even Salesforce administrator. 

Trailhead is meant to help people gain the skills needed for those professions, Franklin said, and her team continues to add to the platform to meet new needs. Since launching in 2014, it’s evolved from offering traditional online learning to adding on-demand videos from experts and live broadcasts. The live video feature, Trailhead LIVE, has seen four times as much usage than normal in March, Salesforce said, as people seek advice on how to navigate the new normal of the pandemic. 

Trailhead has even started allowing people to get college credits for their courses, thanks to a partnership with Southern New Hampshire University. That’s key to helping people use the skills they learn on Trailhead to actually land a job, Franklin said, because many companies still require their workers to have an accredited college degree. One of the overall goals of Trailhead is to offer people a more affordable way to break into the tech workforce. 

“Degrees are becoming even harder and harder for people to achieve because of the cost,” Franklin said. “People are going into incredible amounts of student debt and they’re often sadly not getting the ROI from those degrees because they can’t necessarily get a job.”  

Salesforce Trailhead

Screenshot via Trailhead.salesforce.com

Creating a pipeline for the Salesforce ecosystem

Trailhead is a pipeline for tech jobs in general, but it’s obviously geared towards the company most of all. A free training system for Salesforce’s software means that it’s creating a pool of qualified candidates for open Salesforce positions or for Salesforce related tech roles at other companies. 

Lauren Zolp was able to find exactly that type of opportunity using Trailhead. She started her career as a translator for the US Airforce in 2014, but got an unexpected medical discharge after one year. She couldn’t find stable work for years because her husband was in the Marine Corps and they moved eight times in about five years. She also didn’t know how to translate the skills from her military career into a corporate role. 

When she signed up for Trailhead three years after leaving the military, though, she started to see a new career path emerge. 

Four weeks after taking her first Trailhead course she was offered a job as a Salesforce administrator at startup. She’s since continued to snag gigs with Salesforce partners and customers, helping them implement the tools into their workflows. 

“One certification turned into two certifications and two now turned into nine,” Zolp told Business Insider. “I act as a solutions architect leading large technology implementation.”

The best part of her job is that it’s all remote (even before the pandemic), Zolp says. She’s currently a Salesforce consultant at a company called HigherEchelon, which partners with government organizations to implement Salesforce technology. 

Her experience is typical: One in four people who go through Trailhead land a job in what the company calls the “Salesforce ecosystem,” which are roles with either customers or partners that resell and implement Salesforce technology.

These jobs are still in high demand right now as companies are forced to digitize faster than expected to accommodate the boom in remote work, Franklin said. 

“Companies are looking to go digital faster than ever right now and they need people with those skills,” Franklin said. “In the Salesforce economy — which is the economy of people that are hiring talent with these skills — those are still jobs that are being hired for.”

How Trailhead helps keep up customer momentum 

Beyond the employment pipeline, Trailhead offers another value for Salesforce, analysts say: It could be key in helping the company keep up customer momentum during this crisis, some analysts say. 

“Salesforce is better positioned than most to sustain customer momentum because of Trailhead,” Rebecca Wettemann, an analyst at Valoir, told Business Insider, “Not just for training, but for the online community of collaboration and support that it has become.” 

Trailhead helps Salesforce customers communicate and collaborate — sometimes even about things beyond Salesforce itself, Wettemann said. That makes it an avenue to bring value to Salesforce customers beyond its core software products. 

“I’m seeing just huge adoption of Trailhead,” Wetteman said, “By individuals in the Salesforce ecosystem, by people who are training for new jobs and new opportunities, and by existing customers.”

Baird analyst Rob Oliver said Trailhead’s value is two-fold: It helps expand the Salesforce ecosystem and it solves one of the main problems customers face with Salesforce, which is that it’s expensive to hire a Salesforce administrator.

As Oliver put it: “The more people we have trained on Salesforce, the more that risk is mitigated.”

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at pzaveri@businessinsider.com or Signal at 925-364-4258. (PR pitches by email only, please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.


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