Alibaba’s local consumer service arm, Alibaba Local Services, has plans to launch an education platform, Alibaba Local Service University, to provide those working in the on-demand industry with training in digital skills, local media outlet Sina Tech News reported on Tuesday.
Alibaba Local Service University will include eight “colleges” that offer training for various service sectors, including catering, logistics, new retail, fitness, parenting, and beauty.
The platform plans to launch 1,000 courses in the next three years, with an aim to reach more than 10 million workers in the on-demand service sector, including merchants and couriers, and help them to develop skills and capabilities for digitalization.
“By establishing the platform, we hope to share Alibaba’s experience in the local services sector during the past 20 years with merchants and help them enhance their skills in management and operations,” said Chen Sheng, who is leading this project. The move also comes as part of Alibaba’s effort to speed up digitalization for the merchants and workers on its on-demand platforms Koubei and Ele.me.
Alibaba Local Services Company was established in 2018, after merging Alibaba’s food delivery service business Ele.me and online restaurant guide platform Koubei to compete with Meituan in the on-demand sector.
This is not Alibaba’s first attempt to launch an education platform. The Hangzhou-based company has already established an education arm named Taobao University in 2009, which offers both free and paid online courses to e-commerce operators and provide them with insights and skills to start or expand their online business. Over 5 million people have used this platform to learn about e-commerce, according to Taobao University.
Meituan Dianping, Alibaba’s major rival in the on-demand sector, has already launched a similar project, Meituan University, in October 2019, aiming to team up with 1000 vocational schools nationwide and reach over 100 million people in the next decade. Meituan University has opened up more than 1,000 online courses to the public for free during the coronavirus outbreak, which have been viewed by more than 880,000 people as of February 26.