The Workforce Development Emerging Global Top 50

The edtech top 50 — emerging companies for workforce development

NAXN — nic newman
Emerge Edtech Insights
5 min readJun 27, 2022


The edtech top 50 — emerging companies for workforce development

Workforce development edtech is a busy space and it can be hard to keep up with the innovation in the sector. At Emerge Education we want to help you cut through the noise.

Members of our Workforce development edtech leadership group, chaired by Don Taylor and in partnership with Coursera, told us that keeping up to date with the best emerging companies in L&D edtech was difficult, confusing and overwhelming. So, as a first step, we’re publishing a list of the top 50 emerging companies you should all be aware of as part of edtechX week in London 2022.

Crowdsourced from members of the Workforce Development board and further afield, we want to highlight great examples and encourage even more innovation.

We launched the top 50 with a LinkedIn Live open session chaired by Donald H Taylor of the Emerge workforce development advisory board and featuring two of the top 50’s founders — Yael Kaufmann, Learn In, and Johannes Schnell-Kretschmer, Junto — who were interviewed to highlight best practice.

We also had the L&D HR leader perspective from Amanda Nolen of Nolen Niles and Duncan Dunlop from Coursera. We’ll be interspersing the category maps below with some of their comments. You can watch the full session on LinkedIn.

The top 50 by category

Quick overview:

  • 45% of these companies are from Europe but all are selling globally
  • They span 2011–2020 with an average age of five years
  • Funds raised go up to $1bn and average $100m
  • Between them they have created over 10,000 jobs


The list is based on public and private data. It was crowdsourced and voted on by our workforce development board. Inclusion criteria in the final list included:

  • Breadth and quality of courses / content / pedagogy in the tool
  • Quality of features and capabilities
  • Industry visibility, innovation and impact
  • Strength of clients and geographic reach
  • Company size and growth potential

Finally, categorisation is difficult! We know that there are inevitably some overlaps. This list is by no means perfect, comment below to tell us about companies we may have missed or can consider for next time.

The top 50 by category

Career navigation infrastructure and Skills assessment

Briefly: this category bundles two categories that go hand in hand. Skills assessment is concerned with understanding where people are starting from so that companies can more effectively hire and support them. Career navigation infrastructure is technology infrastructure that helps organisations support existing employees move from a to b by leveraging assessment as a starting point, along with training and mentoring.

HR leader insights:

  • This space is hot. To look at the whole skills space and identify the starting point for learning, its purpose, and the business and individual performance outcomes, then it’s necessary to reverse engineer and start with skills.
  • Skills are universally accepted as a currency of learning but lots of currency is being issued and people do not know where to spend it. If you don’t have a great internal shop then people won’t be spending it with you, they’ll be spending it elsewhere. Where companies have introduced talent marketplaces they can see a demonstrable change in internal mobility and, importantly, more diverse people going after opportunities they would not previously have considered suitable. Giving people equitable and equal access to opportunity is what’s making a change. What is the shopfront for learning? Will it be the LMSs and LXPs or a talent marketplace?

Collaborative and applied learning and Skills acquisition

Briefly: the collaborative and applied learning category features companies that are usually content-agnostic but instead look at how we learn, innovating to make learning more collaborative, applied, accessible, relevant and impactful. Skills acquisition programmes are usually agnostic about the types of skills they are delivering but have a strong emphasis on the delivery of skills.

HR leader insights:

  • No platform is an island. Employers need to take a more progressive approach to building these learning ecosystems. Look at the end to end experience for employees — how well do the platforms work with other systems? Who has the same views on skills and is collaborative?
  • It is not only through APIs that tools connect and play nicely; the underlying skills data is also critical and that’s another layer of complexity. It is good to see the number of solutions focused on the true experience of learning at the practical and application side rather than just the consumption of content.
  • When we moved to digital learning there was an odd assumption that it would primarily be a person behind a screen alone in a room with asynchronous learning. However, most people learn from other people so that should be built in as well as practical, experience-based application.

Verticalised learning providers

Briefly: this category is often neglected, with its size and value underestimated. It focuses on specific areas of learning or skills or specific personas that more general platforms cannot cater for.

HR leader insights:

  • These companies add value in the sense that they bring together a community of people on the same journey, such as focusing on people trying to learn about sales. The power of these vertical solutions lies not only in that focus and the learning itself but also the networks and connections people make.
  • There are opportunities here for a greater focus on truly reskilling (taking people from outside these professions and providing a full programme to help them enter them) rather than upskilling. Companies cannot recruit their way to their future skills needs but until providers start offering those programmes, and in a meaningful way, companies will continue to go down the recruitment route. Reskilling is continually dumped in the upskilling bucket but they are very different things. A reskilling lens across these verticalised solutions would be very valuable.

Don’t forget, you can catch up on the whole discussion on LinkedIn, and please let us know if there are companies you think are missing — we will update this list over time.

Emerge Education welcomes inquiries from new investors and startup founders. For more information, visit or email

Thank-you for reading… I would hugely appreciate some claps 👏 and shares 🙌 so that others can find it!


Nic Newman

Linked in




NAXN — nic newman
Emerge Edtech Insights

I write about growth. From personal learning to the startups we invest in at Emerge, to where I am a NED, it all comes back to one central idea — how to GROW