- Google has expanded its Grow with Google digital learning program to include an IT Support Professional Certificate at 25 community colleges. It has enlisted the support of 14 companies that say they can’t fill IT support positions and will consider students who complete the program.
- The course, which will be offered online through the Coursera learning platform in collaboration with colleges in seven states starting this fall, has already enrolled 40,000 students. The Grow with Google initiative offers courses such as Get Your Business Online and Applied Digital Skills.
- Graduates with the certificate will be able to directly share their information with about 20 top companies, including Bank of America, Walmart and GE Digital.
Google estimates that the are 150,000 open IT support positions with starting salaries of about $52,000, many of which do not require a college degree. The course will train workers in about eight months and use several hands-on assessments that require participants to troubleshoot a tech problem as if they were on the job.
Wired magazine reported recently that businesses are growing impatient with colleges that offer ineffective course work and graduates that don’t fit their needs so they are designing their own college courses. It cites a report that says 1.8 million new tech jobs will have been created by the decade ending 2024, and retiring baby boomers will open thousands of others. But, it says, colleges and universities are producing only about 28,000 computer-science graduates with bachelor’s and master’s degrees per year.
It identifies several companies that are developing their own courses, such as Microsoft and Linux, and notes that Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is working with for-profit university Southern Careers Institute to create Woz U to train tech workers online. IBM has also announced it is expanding its partnership with a dozen more community colleges to train workers.
To accelerate this sort of collaboration, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation recently launched its Talent Pipeline Management Academy, which encourages employers to become involved much more directly with education systems to ensure they produce people with needed skills. Large tech companies are behind the Internet of Learning Consortium (ILC), which hopes to “accelerate the development, adoption, and widespread use of the Internet for technology skills acquisition, and thus provide a steady stream of job-ready workers to fuel the global economy." A white paper describes ILC plans to work with employers, educators and job seekers.
Some analysts say colleges have a shortage of faculty trained to teach the needed courses, and some critics of fast-paced, tech-based changes in education say they are hindered by the lack of hiring and the need for more resources.