- Google's new online IT certification had more than 40,000 enrollees and 1,200 completions in its first five months, according to Inside Higher Ed, which cites experts who say a shortage of skilled tech workers will drive continued employer-sponsored education.
- Available on MOOC-provider Coursera, the five-course program was designed by Google and takes about eight months to finish at a cost of $49 per month. It is intended to prepare learners for entry-level IT roles and covers topics including customer service, operating systems, networking and security.
- More than 25 community colleges across seven states and Northeastern University will offer credit for the program. Google also is funding 10,000 scholarships for veterans, refugees and low-income students. Apple, Facebook and Amazon AWS Educate are among other tech companies to offer similar user certifications with higher ed partnerships.
Successful completion of Google's IT certificate could earn Northeastern students up to 12 credits in the university's College of Professional Studies, saving $6,000 in tuition.
Several tech fields face a shortage of skilled workers, and colleges often lack the resources to keep up with continual, rapid changes in technology and workforce needs. The Council on Foreign Relations noted that the share of jobs in the U.S. demanding high levels of digital skills has more than quadrupled to 32 million jobs — or, about one-quarter of the workforce — in the last two decades, and that the number will only grow.
A report from consultancy McKinsey suggests private-sector partnerships can be a viable solution for colleges trying to keep pace with that change. "We have found the best workforce-development solutions happen when leading employers come together to address the talent problem for an entire sector," it explains. "Assuming there are no antitrust issues, such collaborations can be attractive to industry competitors because the training costs are shared and the risk of poaching is limited."
Facebook, for example, is sharing curriculum on digital advertising and media training with several community colleges, a move they hope will educate small business owners and employees about an important part of the tech company's business model. Apple's application development curriculum, meanwhile, was implemented at more than 30 community colleges during the 2017-18 academic year. And Google is partnering with for-profit online education company Udacity to offer career- and technical-focused online courses to recent graduates and mid-career professionals.