By Michael E. Hansen, CEO, Cengage
It has been a big day for Cengage; and for me as a CEO, it has been a moment of real optimism about our impact on learners and go-forward trajectory. Earlier today, we announced our end of year results for fiscal year 2021, which marked an inflection point for Cengage. Our largest business, US Higher Ed, returned to growth, driven by our digital-first strategy; and our ed2go business saw an explosion in demand from learners who pursued alternate education pathways to gain job-ready skills. On top of this incredible momentum, we also launched our new corporate website, which I’m proud to say is a true embodiment of who we are, what we do and how we do it.
Our investment in digital learning and customer support capabilities, which began more than eight years ago, enabled us to meet customers’ needs quickly and effectively as educators, students and administrators faced unprecedented challenges during the global pandemic. In addition, our ability to help millions of learners during the past year served as a springboard for continued revenue growth as key secular drivers already underway – specifically digital migration across all Cengage businesses and demand for career-readiness training – were accelerated.
Against this backdrop, we have our sights set firmly on the next decade, where we aim to be the leader in getting learners career-ready, not just degree ready. Specifically, we are focused on three areas where we can impact the lives of millions of learners:
Grow Digital Adoption in Higher Ed
Cengage’s U.S. Higher Education business returned to overall growth this past fiscal year, despite an unprecedented 4-5% decline in enrollments. And, equally important, the business passed an important milestone as, for the first time, digital revenue growth outpaced print revenue declines, with digital share of net sales now 83%. Furthermore, Cengage Unlimited continued to champion affordability for students, with more than 3.3M students now having saved more than $330M in course materials since launch in 2018. As we look forward to fiscal year 2022 and beyond, we are focused on evolving to meet the continued needs of students, and lowering the barriers to attaining an education, while also making sure educators and administrators are equipped with the tools they need to deliver engaging learning experiences that help students succeed.
Support the Exploding Demand for Career-Focused Learning
While growing for years, demand for shorter, affordable and more career-focused alternative training pathways is now exploding. These trends have been greatly accelerated by COVID which delivered many years of progress in just a few months. Over the last year, our Workforce Skills business, ed2go, experienced a 46% increase in revenue.
With more than 14M Americans currently un- or under-employed, and more than 9M job openings according to May Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the misalignment between the skills individuals have, and the skills employers seek, is staggering. Five businesses in our portfolio directly support learners in developing skills and capabilities toward their employment aspiration. As learners, employers and governments invest billions of dollars on career-focused training, we will deepen our foothold in Education for Employment to align with changes in the job market and learner preferences.
Drive Efficiency and Scale
The shift of all businesses in our portfolio to a greater emphasis on digital creates opportunity to further leverage our shared assets, capabilities and learnings. From piloting Cengage Unlimited in international markets to the reuse and adaptation of content across markets, the synergies across our portfolio create tremendous efficiency and opportunity to reach more learners globally.
A Fresh Look & Forward Focus
With a fresh look and strong momentum, our new corporate website, corporate.cengage.com, tells the story of Cengage – including all businesses in our portfolio. Committed to our Credo, and our belief in the power and joy of learning, the site invites visitors to get to know us better.
For me, and the entire executive team, it was extremely important to have our website showcase what makes Cengage unique. And to do that, we knew that our culture, and our employees, had to be front and center. Rather than using stock imagery, we invited employees from across our businesses and functions to represent our entire organization as ambassadors of our culture. I am proud of the stories each employee shares, through quotes and videos, about their experience working at Cengage and supporting our customers.
This new site is an important part of our journey, as it provides the opportunity to truly showcase our mission, our values and the people that make our business thrive.
As we look at fiscal year 2022 and beyond, I’m extremely optimistic about the opportunities ahead. We have a clear path to achieve our aspiration to help learners become career ready, not just degree ready, and I’m confident we will impact the lives of millions of learners who seek education to improve their lives and achieve their dreams.
This article original appeared on LinkedIn.