Google already teaches us many things, like how to properly cut a pineapple. But beyond the everyday queries, the company is offering formal learning opportunities that can boost or even jump-start your career. It has recently announced the Google Career Certificates program that offers certifications in data analytics, project management, and user experience (UX) design. All courses are remote and flexible for working students and can be completed in about six months.
Aside from being convenient and practical, there's a revolutionary aspect to the certificates program. Google will view the short courses as equivalent to a traditional four-year degree in its own hiring process.
The company is questioning what it means to be prepared for the workforce, and what that preparation should entail. Job creation over the past decade has been concentrated in fields that demand a level of digital and IT literacy. Coursework through conventional higher learning may provide these skills, but Google wishes to create a different path. Kent Walker, Senior Vice President of Global Affairs, explains the rationale in a blog post. “College degrees are out of reach for many Americans, and you shouldn’t need a college diploma to have economic security.” In 2018, the first Google certificate was launched—the Google IT Certificate Program—and proved extremely popular.
There is a philanthropic component to the program, too. Google has committed to providing 100,000 scholarships as well as hundreds of apprenticeships to further build workers' skills. Certificates will also be available through partnerships at high schools and community colleges.
Google views the expansion of its certificate program as part of America's national economic recovery. While most graduates will not get a job at Google, the job-specific training sets workers on the path towards well-paying careers. A consortium of companies has joined with Google, interested in hiring from the promising forthcoming graduates.
Some see this as a positive development in higher education—a shift away from student debt and barriers to access in the traditional university system. While there remains value in a four-year degree, questioning the necessity of a bachelor's degree opens doors to new talent and new opportunities.