Search Engine giant Google has announced 100,000 scholarships for its new online certificate courses in data analytics, project management and user experience design.
The courses are offered via the online learning platform Coursera and would not require no college degree. They can be completed in three to six months and would be equivalent to a four-year degree courses role in the firm.
Aside the Scholarships for individuals enrolled in any of these career certificate programs, Google will be awarding over $10 million in grants to YWCA, NPower and JFF — three nonprofits that partner with Google to provide workforce development to women, veterans and underrepresented Americans.
“This is not revenue-generating for Google,” says Google vice president,Lisa Gevelber, who leads Grow with Google and Google for Startups and serves as the company’s Americas chief marketing officer. “There’s a small cost from the Coursera platform itself — the current pricing is $49 a month — but we want to ensure that anyone who wants to have this opportunity, can have it.”
Google’s choice of these specific fields of data analytics, project management and user experience is deliberate because they can lead to “high-growth, high-paying careers.”
Coronavirus “has caused an acceleration of some labor trends like automation,” Karen Fichuk, CEO of Randstad North America told CNBC Make It in April, adding that out-of-work Americans may need to develop new skills in order to find new jobs. “What we’re seeing is this significant need for massive up-skilling and retraining, especially for workers who have been laid off.”
Some believe that low-cost certificate programs may be a possible solution, as well as a tool to combat historic inequality in fields such as tech and improve prob prospects forthose who do not have a college degree.
“While college degrees have tons of value, they are not accessible to everyone,” says Gevelber. “And we believe that the absence of a college degree should not be a barrier to economic stability.”
In 2018, Google launched a similar certificate program for those interested in IT.
“When we first built the IT certificate, we built it for our own use,” says Gevelber. “We wanted to diversify our own workforce and we knew to do that we needed to create an on-ramp for underrepresented and ‘nontraditional applicants.’ We thought a certificate would be a way to accomplish that goal, and it did.”
Google says that 58% of those who take its IT certificate identify as Black, Latino, female or as a veteran and that 45% of enrollees make less than $30,000 per year.The company claims that 80% of participants say the program helped them advance their job search or career within six months, including getting a raise, finding a new job or starting a new business.
Yves Cooper took Google’s IT certificate in 2018 through a workforce-development program run by the nonprofit Merit America. Cooper had dropped out of Coppin State University and was working as a van driver for adults with developmental disabilities. Today, Cooper works as an IT help desk technician for Prosperity Now, a D.C. nonprofit and is earning “much more.”
He says the Merit America program offered in-person support, encouraged his class of six students to complete the certificate in 10 weeks and that he and three others graduated from the program.
Before the program, Cooper says he did not hear back from any organizations he applied to. “A couple of days after I finished the Google certification, I applied to the job I currently have now and they got back to me maybe four or five days later,” he says.
Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera, says more than 250,000 people have taken Google’s IT certificate, 57% of whom do not have a college degree, making it the platform’s most popular certificate. He suspects the new certificates will be similarly popular — especially in light of recent events.