Of the myriad troubles that come with being displaced from one’s home country, losing educational credentials may seem small. But it isn’t. Refugees who resettle in other countries often find themselves unable to continue on their previous career path due to a new set of employer standards or skills requirements.
As the world migrant crisis intensifies, employment is more and more of global concern. The new program aims to aid refugees by offering “important skills that will help them in the global economy,” Evan Ryan, US assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, said on a press call last week. Added Coursera chief operations officer Lila Ibrahim, “What we don’t want to do is not act.”
The idea isn’t without its kinks. For one, embarking on a new career path is not as simple as watching a few videos and obtaining an online certificate; even those looking to continue previous careers can’t simply rely on an online lecture to get them up to date on standards, policies, and practices. For another, most of the classes on Coursera are in English, and though there are plans to add subtitles and translations, language barriers can be a big deterrent. Then there are the questions over the efficacy of massive open online courses (MOOCs) themselves—both for refugees and for average learners.
But it’s still early days and there are signs of hope. In 2015, a joint studyfound 72% of people who took MOOCs saw career benefits afterward.