19 Apr 2024

Online education start-up NextWork raises $2.3m in funding

8:24 am on 19 April 2024
NextWork founder Amber Joseph.

NextWork founder Amber Joseph. Photo: Supplied

An online education start-up wants to upskill the likely growing number of displaced non-tech workers as the use of artificial intelligence (AI) grows.

Wellington-based company NextWork has raised $2.3 million in early funding, led by venture capitalists GD1, with participation from Blackbird, Icehouse and PhaseOne.

In a bid to test its platform and raise awareness, the company wants to recruit 1000 non-tech workers for a free Amazon Web Services certification course.

NextWork founder Amber Joseph said a key difference was the company would offer self-paced learning that was "human-friendly" and personalised.

"At best, online learning isn't working; and at worst, it's stalling our progress as the gap between technology and how well-prepared we are to use it is widening," Joseph said.

"Never before has this type of education been as essential; but there is a lot of 'noise' out there, and it's hard for learners to determine which institutions and classes are credible."

Joseph said she wanted to ensure people could upskill easily due to the changing nature of technology, particularly AI.

She said she saw the risk of AI displacing "a lot of people" from well-paying jobs, but it did not mean they would not be able to work.

"It really is the chance for them to upskill and to learn some skills that are really going to promote them and get them into that entry level that's going to take their career just soaring," Joseph said.

She said the current education system did not upskill people quickly enough to adapt to changing working conditions.

"Our goal is to recruit 1000 participants into tech as soon as possible, and to prove that our approach is the best way to implement learning journeys for non-technical candidates at scale," she said.

Joseph said NextWork had the potential to grow beyond tech learning.

GD1 co-managing partner John Kells believed NextWork's self-paced learning model was a stand-out.

"NextWork stands head and shoulders above others in terms of delivering on the promise of a very different learning experience."

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