June 24, 2011
A new Silicon Valley start-up is partnering with the University of California at Los Angeles to help baby boomers learn new skills and transition into new careers.
According to VentureBeat, the start-up--appropriately named Encore Career Institute--raised $15 million in financing from VC firms Granite Ventures and InterWest Partners. In a partnership with the UCLA Extension program, Encore will offer online education courses designed specifically for older workers. The Administration on Aging estimated that Americans 65 or older will represent roughly one-fifth of the total U.S. population by 2030. Furthermore, Steve Poizner, Encore's chief executive, former technology executive and California gubernatorial candidate in 2010, told The Chronicle of Higher Education that 35 million baby boomers want to pursue a second career, yet they remain an untapped market in higher education.
"A lot of boomers who have been able to survive this difficult economy still find their jobs are not necessarily satisfying, so they're looking for an encore career," said Poizner.
Encore's lead investor Tom Rosch, a general partner at InterWest, told VentureBeat that Encore Career Institute is working with California employers to determine what kind of workers they are looking for and what kind of jobs are needed. The company has access to a team of marketers and engineers from eHarmony and will use the dating site's match-making technology to pair baby boomers with their ideal education and career path.
SFGate reported that Encore will offer job-retraining classes as well as certificate programs in fields with job opportunities for boomers, such as finance, education, health care and environmental sustainability.
Encore will also work with Creative Artists Agency, the world's largest sports and talent agency, to market the online programs.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that although more and more universities have turned to commercial vendors for assistance in managing their growing online programs, this program is unique in that UCLA will license its course content to Encore and will maintain control of the educational component of the program. Furthermore, Cathy Sandeen, dean of UCLA Extension, told SFGate that she believes this is the first online education program to be designed for a very specific demographic.
While the primary goal of the program is to help baby boomers move into new careers, Sandeen told The Chronicle of Higher Education that this will also be a prime opportunity for UCLA to expand its audience. Additionally, Poizner told SFGate that it would bring in some much needed revenue for cash-strapped UCLA.
Classes at Encore will begin fall 2012 and tuition is expected to be $5,000 to $10,000 a year.
Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin
"Encore Career Institute raises $15M to educate Baby Boomers," venturebeat.com, June 23, 2011, Regina Hope Sinsky
"Encore Career Institute to aid Baby Boomers," SFGate.com, June 23, 2011, Carla Marinucci
"UCLA Joins Venture to Offer Online Education to Baby Boomers," chronicle.com, June 23, 2011, Josh Keller