LearnUp, A Startup Closing The Skills Gap For Entry-Level Job Seekers, Raises $8M From NEA, Shasta

alexis-ringwald-2In the time leading up to starting her next company, LearnUp co-founder Alexis Ringwald spent six months at unemployment centers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area trying to learn exactly what was holding job seekers back amid the recession.

One of the things she saw was a mismatch between the kinds of customer service and entry-level skills employers wanted to see with new and untested hires.

So she created an educational platform with short modules that job applicants can use to learn about the requirements and practices of a job before they apply. It covers interview preparation, job coaching and skills that are needed for specific positions.

LearnUp’s modules include batches of three-to-10-minute learning modules containing information about things like office equipment and copying machines (if you’re applying for a retailer like Staples). Candidates go through this one-hour training and learn a little bit about the position before interviewing. It also helps employers filter out candidates who are more motivated or who have taken the time to go through a training.

Ringwald specifically wanted to target non white-collar jobs, because 73 percent of positions in the country require less than a college degree.

Today, the company is announcing an $8 million round led by NEA and Shasta Ventures, with participation from Greylock Partners, Floodgate, and High Line Venture Partners.

The funding will go toward partnerships across the retail industry, call centers, hospitality and food. Already, the company has partnered with Old Navy, AT&T, Fresh Market, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Sprint.

The company says it’s able to triple the ability of a job applicant to get hired and that employer partners see 30 percent less turnover along with more efficiencies in their hiring process and speed. Old Navy is using the platform to train 200,000 workers.