- Guild Education has acquired Entangled, an educational consulting and product design firm founded in 2015 that "focused on the intersection of work and learning" and also has a venture and investment arm, according to the May 19 announcement. Recently valued at more than $1 billion after raising $157 million in Series D funding this past November, Guild Education partners with companies to provide access to education as an employment benefit.
- Among the reasons for making the acquisition, Guild expressed interest not only in Entangled's product development capabilities but also in its talent and thought leadership. As unemployment rises, "companies are asking us to help their workers through a very different set of challenges — in a very different labor market," Rachel Carson, CEO of Guild, said in a statement. Meeting these changing market conditions required some added agility for a company primarily focused on workforce development as a retention tool.
- Entangled previously partnered with Guild to build Next Chapter, a platform created to help furloughed or laid-off workers find new jobs. The success of this project "catalyzed the acquisition thesis," according to the companies' statement. "The Entangled team will enable us to quickly design, test and launch products that pair innovative technology and coaching services with transformative educational experiences," Carson said.
As Carson noted, unemployment continues to rise and business strategy is changing in many ways amid the ongoing pandemic. Even before the novel coronavirus, employers faced stark digital skills gaps with chunks of the labor force at risk of falling behind. The conditions surrounding the pandemic have worsened these problems and halted progress on workplace equity issues in many cases.
Some companies are still growing, even as others make large workforce reductions. Generally speaking, larger companies in technology and other industries where services can be purchased and delivered online, along with those deemed essential, are continuing to hire. They are also expanding benefits and offering other perks to entice workers. Smaller businesses are being hit hard across the board as are many corporations in the restaurant, travel and hospitality spaces.
Organizations will need resilience to navigate the rapidly evolving business climate, and agility will remain important. Leadership teams that were prepared for the impact of an upcoming financial crisis, however it may have occurred, were generally modest with their cash on hand but still invested in business continuity, workplace technology and upskilling of workers.
Training efforts are going to see increased importance, despite also having increased budget scrutiny, as companies adjust to the pandemic, employers have told HR Dive. Previous research has found that workers are interested not only in practical skills such as time management and communication, but also "softer" skills such as emotional intelligence, stress management and work-life balance.