There are two Silicon Valleys. In one, workers choose among lucrative offers from desperate employers, enjoy free food and massages at the office, and learn applied cryptography in their spare time.
In the other, the unemployment rate has shot above the national average, employers are flooded with applicants, and education must result in immediately marketable skills.
The first, elite Silicon Valley, is both the focus and birthplace of the big startups in the flourishing online education sector. Udacity and Singularity University, for example, offer courses in applied sciences to graduates and working professionals, while Udacity also targets those seeking what it calls a “university-level education.” That latter group is also targeted by Coursera and the Minerva Project.
For the other Silicon Valley, there’s LearnUp, a job-training startup launched earlier this year by two entrepreneurs who spent six months walking the unemployment lines and interviewing the Valley’s underclass. Co-founder Alexis Ringwald had successfully sold her startup Valence, which made energy management software, but was struck by the bleak economic scene around her — “High unemployment rates and vacant office buildings everywhere,” as she put it, a sharp contrast to the bustling Indian economy she’d witnessed firsthand as a Fulbright Scholar from 2006 to 2009.
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