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Future of Work

How Trailhead’s Partnerships Are Preparing People for the Future of Work

Chris Duarte

Salesforce launched Trailhead, its free online learning platform, in 2014 with the goal of widening access to education and careers in the tech industry. That mission has never been more critical. 

COVID-19 has put tens of millions of people out of work, with job losses disproportionately hurting minorities and less-educated workers. According to Salesforce research, a majority of those still employed are now working remotely, and nearly 70% expect the pandemic to permanently reshape their roles. Workers everywhere face an urgent need to skill up to succeed in an all digital, work-from-anywhere world.

Now more than ever, people need free access to the technologies and skills to land a job in the changing workforce, regardless of their background or where they live. That’s why Trailhead has been scaling up its technical partnerships — including with Amazon Web ServicesGoogle and Slack — to help people prepare for careers both within and beyond the Salesforce ecosystem. 

We spoke with Chris Duarte, Salesforce’s VP of Trailhead Content, about how Trailhead’s partner content is breaking down the barriers to learning and career opportunities at this moment of transformation.

Q. COVID-19 has created the need for a workforce that’s prepared to navigate an all-digital future. How is Trailhead helping anyone skill up for the future of work?

This is an unusual time. We’re experiencing multiple crises around health, the economy and inequality. In the U.S., more than 32 million people are unemployed. Companies everywhere are trying to pivot to go digital fast while rebuilding and reskilling their workforces. 

At Trailhead, our mission has always been to help people learn from anywhere and to democratize education and provide equal opportunity for all. Our model is “Learn, Earn and Connect.” You learn by completing badges on Trailhead. You earn resume-worthy credentials through superbadges, which let you apply skills you’ve learned to real-world business problems, and globally-recognized Salesforce Certifications. And you connect to opportunities like mentorship and employment through an awesome community of Trailblazers.

Trailhead can be a catalyst to level the playing field and move the needle on diversity in the tech industry. It can equip people all over the world to get back to work — in the Salesforce economy and beyond — and help the world get back to growth. 

Q. How is Trailhead preparing people for jobs beyond the Salesforce ecosystem?

I’ve worked in the Salesforce ecosystem for a decade, and I love teaching people about the company. But if we really want to make a difference in the future of work, we have to embrace the fact that people need to be skilled for jobs beyond Salesforce. It’s more important than ever for us to help people land the roles available right now. 

That’s why we’ve partnered with organizations like Amazon Web ServicesGoogleIBM, AtlassianInVision and the Drucker School of Management. With our partners, we teach everything from blockchain to communicating ideas in a visual format to sprucing up your resume. 

One example of a fruitful partnership is the cybersecurity hub we built together with the World Economic Forum. Careers in cybersecurity are among the most in-demand roles, but there’s a talent gap. This resource helps people build the skills necessary to break into the industry, learn about different roles and gain insights from people working in the field today. 

Q. How does Trailhead’s partner content help break down barriers to learning?

We like to say Trailblazing is a team sport. That’s why we team up with experts from beyond the Salesforce ecosystem to teach marketable, relevant skills — both technical knowledge and the soft skills workers need to succeed today. 

For example, we built a trail with Amazon Web Services on cloud computing essentials. It helps cloud practitioners understand the AWS infrastructure, service categories and management interfaces, as well as the advantages of cloud computing more broadly. We also have an AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification path, produced in collaboration with Amazon Web Services, with practice questions, interactive flashcards and tips to help you prepare for the exam. This certification validates technical skills and cloud expertise to grow your career. You can explore more about how AWS and Salesforce are working together at sforce.co/AWSPark.

All developers need to know how to accomplish team-based development, so we partnered with Atlassian on a module about agile project management, including using Scrum and Kanban.

We partnered with Fusion Risk Management to build a badge on Strategies for Workplace Reopening. The badge defines what it means to be operationally resilient during COVID-19 and outlines specific steps, teams, and responsibilities necessary to reopen your workplace safely. The final unit tackles how to monitor your progress with data and reporting.

Q. Can you tell us about some of the new partner content Trailhead has recently released?

Together with Slack, we created a new trail called Boost Collaboration with the Salesforce for Slack Integration. This helps people combine the Salesforce CRM with the integration tools in Slack for sales and service use cases. You can learn how to search for Salesforce records, set up automation, and send alerts to update Salesforce records, all from the Slack user interface. This builds on our module on Slack Development Basics, featuring content on Slack integration and building productivity-boosting apps.

We just released a new module, Tableau and Google BigQuery Optimization, bringing the power of these two technologies together. Our community has been excited to learn more about how they can harness the power of analytics to help companies make smart, data-driven decisions. This module follows other content we’ve built with Google over the past several years and will help people improve their query performance and analytics in a no-code environment. To hear from a deep product expert on the benefits of the Tableau and BigQuery integration, visit the on-demandSalesforce + Google Virtual Adventure.

We developed a new badge with Copado to provide an overview of DevOps and how it helps companies deliver more innovation with less risk. It describes the tension between the need for change and the need for stability, and describes unique considerations for teams that develop on the Salesforce platform. Continuous Innovation with Copado explores gathering feedback, building a culture of continuous improvement and fostering resilience. Both modules feature Copado tools, built on Salesforce, that support DevOps practices.

These partnerships are helping Trailhead bring marketable skills to and beyond our ecosystem. Workers who build this expertise can help companies digitally transform, while modernizing and improving cooperation and productivity. 

Q. Looking ahead, what is Trailhead’s long-term vision for its partner content?

We see a great opportunity to expand our work with partners to help people upskill and reskill. So far, we’ve worked with a number of nonprofits, companies and universities on badges. Going forward, we want to go further and create more on-demand videos and live-streamed sessions on Trailhead LIVE with our partners. We also want to bring partners into Trail Together: Skill Building Series, our new show where an expert guides you through a module or project’s units in real time and answers your questions along the way.

Q. As we move to a new normal, what Trailhead partner content would you recommend to anyone looking to learn marketable skills?

Every company right now is facing a digital imperative. That’s a fancy way of saying they’re trying to figure out how to run their business from anywhere in uncertain times. Someone who wants to be marketable today needs to focus on learning the skills that companies need to help them digitally transform. 

One promising arena is automation and bots — technologies that provide greater efficiency and deliver a better customer experience. The Slack Development Basics badge can teach you how to build a bot right in Slack. Or the Amazon Connect Integration and Service Cloud Voice  badges show you how to quickly set up intelligent telephony, so employees in your company’s call center can work from anywhere.