Coursera is one of the world’s largest online learning providers with more than 110 million learners worldwide. And now, SAP has its first professional certificate on the platform: the SAP Technology Consultant. Jürgen Müller, Chief Technology Officer and member of the executive board at SAP, and other leaders of SAP like Max Wessel, Chief Learning Officer, announced the big news at SAP TechEd. We all know there is an urgency for companies to find talents with technical skills. That´s why SAP invests highly in educating and enabling the next generation through university programs like SAP University Alliances, or the digital skills initiative that provides easier access to learning resources to historically underrepresented and underserved groups. Coursera adds to these efforts by meeting learners where they are at.
Why am I that passionate about this?
Supporting students and educators to find easy access to SAP and tech skills is my passion. I was privileged to lead a team of over 20 people working across three companies for 18 months building the relationship with Coursera to create this initial course. I would like to share some insights from managing the project with you, that add to our press release.
What is the biggest challenge of today´s education?
We live in a world of ever-increasing complexity brought about by a mixture of global interconnectedness, technological sophistication, and the fragmentation of roles and skills. It becomes increasingly impossible to be ‘all things to all people. This complexity presents unique challenges to education.
How can I find what I need to know when I need to know it?
How can I find materials at my level of expertise and understanding?
How can I access learning at the time and place best suited to my schedule and lifestyle?
How can I identify what skills I need to develop now for the career I want to have tomorrow?
What do partners and students think?
There is a broad spectrum of learning delivery mechanisms for students across many platforms. Depending on the answers to the questions above, students need to navigate through all mechanisms and choose their platform. I spoke with many SAP partners to collect their insights. They need to access skills on demand. They need to find specific answers to a specific question. Immediately. Conversely, university and college students tell me that they need more support in career orientation to decide what skills to learn. They would like to understand where their SAP career could start first. And then, they want to understand what skills will best position them, and which are most in demand now and in future. They want career roadmaps and learning journeys.
How can learning overcome these challenges and meet expectations?
Learning needs to be delivered in different models. One key mechanism that ensures flexibility and offers opportunities for different learning styles is online learning. Online courses vary. Micro-learnings support highly targeted and immediate skills development through short courses. Long-form courses can cover broader topics and guide learners through a range of topics and contexts. They are not mutually exclusive – in fact, an integrated net of learning mechanisms each drawing on strengths supports the individual learner´s needs. Online learning can also entail different delivery options to meet students´ specific learning styles and schedules. Videos, assessments, exercises, live systems, Q&As – all these options can help students who are ‘stuck’ by giving access to multiple different means to explain the same concept.
How does this lead to the first SAP Coursera Certificate?
By partnering with Coursera, we can build on all these insights, and we designed the online learning to meet the student’s needs. Seven courses build up to gain the Coursera Professional Certificate ‘SAP Technology Consultant’. Students receive the career roadmaps they seek for orientation. And we minimize the skills gap by teaching the knowledge and skills that have been expressly requested by SAP colleagues and SAP Partners including Accenture, IBM, Deloitte, Cap Gemini, KPMG, EY, etc. For me, this feels like a win-win.
Coursera typical course outline
How are the courses structured?
The courses give an all-around introduction to the topic of SAP consulting. First, it guides you through general consulting skills. Then, through the enterprise systems landscape including trends and analysis. It takes you through the process of exploration, design, implementation, and sign-off for a large-scale system. You are given a substantial case study to work through. And finally, you are given an extensive array of career advice, tips, and tricks to help you enter the SAP ecosystem.
For whom are the courses designed?
The courses have no prerequisites and are ideal for students who are looking to start an SAP consulting career. But it is likewise interesting for professionals in another career and who are looking to change direction and enter the SAP consulting field. People who are in an SAP career can also strengthen their broader consulting skills or their general SAP knowledge.
What are my personal highlights?
I deliberately designed that students have plenty of opportunity to work through some examples of simulated customer implementation lifecycles. This aspect is most dear to me. The first two courses ask you to first look at SAP customer success stories and analyze them, then go into greater depth into one specific SAP customer. Courses 3 to 5 take you through a full implementation so that you as a student will have experience with each phase of the implementation process. Course 6 is a case study where you do the same thing but without any handholding. So, upon completion, students will be able to add to their CV/resume that they have experience in analyzing three companies and undertaking a thorough analysis of an implementation lifecycle for two full implementations.
This is vitally important as it is often a catch-22 situation for students trying to enter the SAP ecosystem. Many roles will ask for implementation knowledge or experience, and although this course is no substitute for real hands-on experience in an implementation team it aims to give the student a flavour of how such projects progress.
If you read this far, I hope you feel motivated to check out the Coursera SAP Technology Consulting Professional Certificate here. There is a 7-day free trial, so you can take a look at the content before deciding if you want to join the Coursera platform.
I would like to extend an open invitation to students following the course to connect with me and to follow the SAP Next-Gen community. I will accept all invitations and am happy to answer questions and help with your queries about how to enter an SAP career. Feel also free to comment on this blog post.