Seattle – August 1, 2019 – NextStep Interactive, a startup that aims to help displaced workers retrain for fast-growing careers in the health care sector today announced a $3 million investment from education and impact investors including SEI Ventures, JAZZ Venture Partners, Learn Capital’s LearnStart fund, Springrock Ventures, City Light Capital, Frontier Angels, and three managing directors of Pioneer Square Labs. NextStep, a spinout of Pioneer Square Labs, the Seattle startup studio, previously announced a $3.275 million funding round in fall 2018 led by JAZZ Venture Partners.
As the U.S. population ages, health care jobs are growing at significantly faster rates than the broader economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, six out of ten of the fastest growing jobs in the United States are in the health care industry, where jobs such as home health aides, projected to grow 41 percent by 2026. A 2016 study,however, found that the supply of health care workers is expected to fall short of projected global hiring demand by more than 15 million workers.
“Workers displaced by technology represent a pool of untapped talent for a health care industry that continues to face a critical shortage of workers to fill in-demand jobs such as certified nursing assistants, home health aides and community health workers,” said Chris Hedrick, CEO of NextStep Interactive. “We’re proving that new modes of training that respect both the time and capabilities of displaced workers, combined with job placement services, can unlock the potential of individuals who are every bit as agile as the innovation economy.”
NextStep enables employers to screen talent based on demonstration of competencies and soft skills suggestive of fit for health care professions. Through courses delivered on mobile devices in 10-15 minute modules, displaced workers with experience in low-wage jobs in service and hospitality, can retrain for jobs in the health care industry with higher earning and promotion potential. Workers not only receive training, but also benefit from an industry-recognized certification and automatic job placement services.
“By pairing new forms of assessment with highly-targeted learning experiences, NextStep places vulnerable workers on a path to more rapid skill development and better opportunity,” said Terry McDonough, managing director of SEI Ventures. “This investment reflects our desire to back companies that not only close skill gaps and equity gaps, but also drive high returns on education investment.”
Hedrick, a longtime entrepreneur, was previously CEO of venture-backed Intrepid Learning. He also served as science and technology advisor to Washington Governor Gary Locke, was Country Director of the Peace Corps in Senegal, led a higher education program called Kepler designed to expand educational opportunity in Rwanda, and served as the first employee at the Gates Library Foundation—the predecessor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—which was an outgrowth of Hedrick’s work managing corporate philanthropy programs at Microsoft.
About NextStep Interactive: NextStep Interactive is creating next-generation technology and learning solutions to meet the needs of the health care industry. NextStep has operations in Seattle, WA and Bozeman, MT. For more information, visit www.nextstep.careers.
About SEI Ventures: SEI Ventures is a corporate-backed fund launched by Strategic Education, Inc. that invests in innovative startups to help them reach their full potential. Our investment in your business is more than just financial. When we commit to working with a company, we become partners and lend our full support to move the company forward. We provide founders a unique value. Our innovative start-ups can pilot products across our degree programs and our base of 80,000+ learners and students. The collective senior-level experience at Strategic Education, Inc. has helped a number of founders improve their products, accelerate their go-to-market activities and grow their businesses, and the creation of SEI Ventures formalizes this support and expertise. More information about SEI Ventures’ focus areas can be found at www.seiventures.com.