- Harold Washington College is teaming up with Facebook and its education partner Pathstream to offer a 24-week digital marketing certificate.
- The community college in Chicago is one of 20 the social media company is working with to provide training in digital marketing as part of its broader initiative to teach people digital skills.
- The push comes as colleges sharpen their focus on strategic partnerships that equip students with technical skills employers want.
Harold Washington, one of the seven City Colleges of Chicago, will launch the online certificate July 29 through its continuing education program, which offers noncredit courses for students seeking occupational skills.
The co-branded certificate comprises six, four-week courses and costs $1,500. Courses cover topics such as analytics, social media and branding as they relate to marketing. Students will also receive credits from Facebook to build ad campaigns for free on its platform as part of their coursework.
The college helped develop curriculum for the version of the certificate being offered to its students. In doing so, it examined vacant digital marketing positions in Chicago last year and found 3,000 openings, said Harold Washington President Ignacio López. He described the process of building the curriculum as "backwards-designing" based on the descriptions for those job postings.
Facebook isn't the only major tech employer working with institutions to offer students technical training.
Amazon Web Services announced last week that it is partnering with George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College to offer a bachelor's degree in cloud computing. The company already offers cloud computing certificates and associate degrees with colleges across the country.
Similarly, Google offers an eight-month online IT support certificate program that has enrolled almost 75,000 people and that more than 8,000 have completed, Inside Higher Ed reported.
Facebook also supports 50 students attending Chicago Codes, the tuition-free coding academy that the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership launched last year. The 11-week boot camp focuses on bringing underrepresented minorities, women and veterans into the information technology field, said Karin Norington-Reaves, CEO of the Partnership.
Students in the program, which is co-sponsored by the City of Chicago, The Rockefeller Foundation, Microsoft and Facebook, receive a training stipend and are guaranteed a paid internship in the IT field upon completion.
Participants supported by Facebook also get to visit local Facebook staff and learn about operations and job opportunities at the company.
"The goal of these partnerships is to help give individuals and companies the tools and skills they need to flourish in an increasingly digital economy," said Parisa Sabeti Zagat, Facebook’s public policy programs director.
Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), another of Facebook's digital marketing certificate partners, has enrolled 84 people in its program since last October. Facebook provided scholarships to partially cover the cost of attendance, which was $199 for the fall cohort and has increased to $299 since then.
Most of the students already own a business or are working for an organization. "They are looking to develop or add to their digital marketing [or] social media skills," said DMACC spokesperson Susan Metheny.