Burning Glass Technologies insights into real-time market data can guide workers on exactly what skills they should build upon to improve their demand in the workforce. In this article, the Wall Street Journal looks at the payoff of these free MBA classes.

An explosion of online business courses is prompting some students to ask: What’s the ROI for free MBA classes? That being said, so many workers today are taking advantage of free MBA classes available online.Yet, businesses don’t seem to value this self-initiated work.  If the free MBA classes are offered by credible institutions like Wharton Business School, Harvard University and Stanford, shouldn’t the work count for something?

“It used to be the case that an M.B.A. from a top school was a golden passport to professional success, and a few universities had a monopoly on the credential,” said Bill Aulet, who teaches entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, which offers a suite of classes online for free.Those credentials matter less now that online learning and non-university training have widened access to skills that once came only with an M.B.A., he said.

A study of more than 17 million online job listings found that of 2,500 certifications requested by employers, the most commonly sought were ones like certified public accountant, which are awarded by industry associations, not universities. “The fact that employers almost never ask for most certificates raises questions about whether people are pursuing a credential that actually has currency in the market,” said Matt Sigelman, chief executive of Burning Glass Technologies, a labor-market data firm that conducted the analysis. Read more >>