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June 18, 2020
Q&A: How Trailhead Empowers Anyone to Learn New Skills for the New Normal
By Ebony Beckwith and Tony Prophet
The global COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformations that were once planned to take place over 1-2 years, into digital imperatives that must be executed overnight. Businesses are having to reimagine themselves, and this is creating the need for a workforce that’s prepared to tackle unique challenges as we move towards the new normal of work.
The pandemic has made reskilling more important than ever before. With Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform, anyone can learn in-demand skills and earn resume-worthy credentials for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Since Trailhead launched in 2014, one in four Trailblazers have found a new job in the Salesforce ecosystem (Source: Nucleus Research).
To help its community navigate the new normal of work, Trailhead has released new learning content and expert-led videos on today's most sought-after skills. Whether you’re looking to reskill at your current company or completely transform your career, Trailhead can help you on your learning journey.
Ahead of TrailheaDX, we caught up with Kris Lande, SVP of Trailhead Marketing and Trailblazer Relations at Salesforce, and Trailblazer Aaron McGriff, Salesforce Consultant at Slalom, on ways that Trailhead can help anyone prepare for the future of work.
COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated digital transformation. How is Trailhead preparing people for the future?
Kris: From day one, Trailhead’s mission has been to democratize education — empowering anyone, from any walk of life, to learn in-demand skills to thrive in the workforce. With COVID-19’s rapid acceleration of digital transformation, we’re seeing that partners and customers in Salesforce’s ecosystem need proven and skilled talent to help them with their digital transformation.
Trailhead is preparing people for the future at every stage of their learning journey, whether you’re looking to skill up at your current company or reskill for a new job in the Salesforce ecosystem. Innovation, driving change and helping a company go digital can happen at any level of a company: all it takes is a willingness to learn.
Aaron: When the Model T first came out, it changed the world. It revolutionized transportation and the automotive industry. But if you were to get onto a freeway in a Model T today, you would be going about 20 miles an hour while everyone around you is going much faster, which disrupts the system.
By not using the technology of today, by not reskilling yourself and by not adapting to the ever-changing world, you are slowing everything down. We don't have to forget what Model T did for us, but we can use innovations like Trailhead to build a better future and improve our own situations.
Trailhead can give everyone the exact tools they need to build their careers for the future. We’re talking about real tools to build real skills. Skills that will land you jobs. Trailhead is the reason why – even during this pandemic – I'm still working.
What first led you to Trailhead?
Aaron: My college degree was in Criminal Justice. After graduating, I was a retail loss prevention manager and an operations manager for over a decade. Then a few years ago, I was laid off out of the blue. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life.
Fortunately, my cousin Nevea is a tech evangelist at Salesforce and she introduced me to Trailhead. It was engaging from the start, and right away, I knew I loved it. With Trailhead I was able to reskill myself without going back to school – and without getting into additional debt.
Where I am today is the difference that 14 months of hard work, determination and grit can make.
How does Trailhead break down barriers to learning?
Kris: With two of our latest Trailhead innovations, Trailhead GO and Trailhead LIVE, we’re continuing to break down the barriers to learning – whether that may be cost or location – to make learning more accessible than ever.
With Trailhead LIVE, we’re reinventing the classroom experience by bringing live-streamed and on-demand expert-led videos to learners in the comfort of their living room. Trailhead GO is our free mobile app where learners can access all of our Trailhead modules and watch Trailhead LIVE sessions anytime, anywhere.
Aaron: You used to have to spend years in school to get the degrees and certifications required to break into tech. Trailhead has completely revolutionized that. With Trailhead, you don't have to go into a classroom – you can just get on your laptop, phone, or tablet. Wherever you are, you can learn.
As we move to a new normal, what Trailhead content would you recommend to anyone looking to learn marketable skills and adapt to new ways of working?
Kris: In these challenging times, we’ve seen an influx of Trailblazers using Trailhead to learn how to navigate the new normal of work. We’ve seen a 37% increase in sign-ups on Trailhead since February.
The secret sauce of Trailhead is the Trailhead Playground, where we provide access to a free developer environment that allows them to roll up their sleeves and experiment with Salesforce technology. This is a major differentiator for Trailhead — anyone can get real, hands-on experience for free.
How is the Trailblazer Community providing connection through this time?
Kris: Community is more important than ever. I’ve been so inspired by the innovation and resilience across our Trailblazer Community.
After launching our new Trailhead LIVE series to fuel a sense of connection across our community, we’ve seen a 306% increase in viewership since March, demonstrating the importance of connection during this time.
With Trailblazer Connect, we’re helping Trailblazers connect with mentorship and new career opportunities across the Salesforce ecosystem.
We’ve also reimagined TrailheaDX, our annual developer conference, into a free virtual event taking place on June 25, 2020. Head here for more information.
Aaron: The Trailblazer Community is the most amazing community I've ever been part of. While we're experiencing this pandemic and people are sheltering in place, the Trailblazer Community has made it possible to connect with like-minded individuals all around the world. Under normal circumstances I go to local Salesforce user group events, but since this virus came along, I've expanded my community through Trailhead’s virtual events. It's proven that through the pandemic, it’s still possible for us to have human connections with colleagues and friends.