Coursera Launches Certificate and Career Academy Program
Coursera has been active in online training and education for a decade now. It’s well known as a source of MOOC (massively open online courses) content, and is affiliated with more than 200 colleges and universities, as well as an even greater number of companies, professional societies and organizations, and vendor-neutral certification sponsors.
Once per year, Coursera holds a conference during which it explains and explores its offerings, partnerships, and plans for the future. Coursera Conference 2022 just wrapped up; the company hosted more than 3,000 participants representing 2,000-plus organizations from 149 countries, including 132 partner organizations from 34 countries.
At the conference, Coursera announced what it calls “a suite of new offerings and platform improvements,” including the two elements that I will focus in on for this story:
1) A Career Academy that provides an organization — usually a business, government, or academic institution — with a platform through which they can offer individual learners content and labs designed to teach the skills and knowledge needed to take on what Coursera calls “high-demand, entry-level digital job(s).” The content is designed to be accessible even to those without a college degree or previous work experience.
Indeed the Coursera Career Academy offers a collection of various entry-level professional certificates that lead candidates through guided projects. It also provides a number of ways for them to explore various career pathways and capsule summaries of potential job roles, responsibilities, and other important job information.
2) Such an academy would be useless without specific and targeted content, so Coursera has worked with key partners that include Google, Salesforce, Meta (Facebook), Intuit, IBM, and others to develop certificate programs that target specific job roles in the areas of software engineering, web development, and basic IT skills.
These programs aim directly at learners who may have neither a degree nor germane work experience, to prepare them to fill entry-level job roles in those fields of work. The certificate programs are expected to be available sometime this summer, with more to come in a more or less ongoing stream after that.
What About Those Certificates?
Five of the initial six certificates slotted for imminent delivery come from Meta (formerly known as Facebook) and cover the following job roles:
Back-End Developer: Candidates acquire basic technical skills to qualify for back-end development positions, including programming systems (Python Syntax, Linux commands, SQL, Git, Version Control, Cloud hosting, APIs, JSON, XML, and others), and understanding the roles and functions of front- and back-end developers. Soft skills include interview preparation and practice, building a portfolio to show off acquired skills and knowledge, and a general understanding of job roles, responsibilities, and on-the-job communications and interactions.
iOS Developer: Candidates learn basic skills and knowledge needed to occupy entry-level iOS developer positions. These include learning how to build mobile apps for iOS systems, and then to manage such software across its lifecycle. Candidates also learn programming fundamentals, especially user interface (UI) design and construction, including best design and implementation practices. Candidates also learn how to show off their new skills and knowledge through a portfolio of project examples that demonstrate their abilities to publish, deploy and maintain mobile apps.
Android Developer: Candidates learn basic skills and knowledge needed to occupy entry-level Android developer positions. These include learning how to build mobile apps for Android systems, and then to manage such software across its lifecycle using Android Studio. Candidates also learn programming fundamentals, especially user interface (UI) design and construction, including best design and implementation practices. Candidates also learn how to show off their new skills and knowledge through a portfolio of project examples that demonstrate their abilities to publish, deploy and maintain mobile apps.
Database Engineer: candidates learn basic database engineering concepts, practices and techniques, with an emphasis on SWL syntax as used to interact with various databases. Candidates acquire the skills and knowledge needed to build database-driven applications in Python to links users with MySQL databases. They also learn how to create databases from scratch, and then how to manage and optimize them. Candidates will develop working skills and knowledge of advanced data modeling include concepts, sample databases, and related projects and applications.
Interestingly, Meta is clearly motivated to create candidates to work within its systems and services. What it’s teaching has broad potential impact, however, and application outside the company’s walls. This is an interesting and compelling collection of certificates, and indeed should offer ample opportunities for those willing to work through their training to acquire the skills and knowledge they can convey.
The sixth and final certificate in the initial batch comes from IBM. It’s called the IBM Technical Support Professional Certificate. It’s a seven-course sequence that teaches the basic skills and knowledge candidates will need to occupy a front-line technical support or help desk position. The goal it help learners “develop key knowledge and up-to-date skills for a rewarding career in IT and Technical Support.”
The emphasis is on helping end-users put technology to work, so that candidates can help them choose, install and set up devices, OSes and important applications (e.g. Microsoft Office, Google Docs, and so forth). Along the way, candidates will build a portfolio of skills in the areas of cybersecurity, computer networking, and cloud computing to help them thrive in IT support or help desk positions.
They’ll also practice customer service and troubleshooting skills by working through interactive labs and simulations to make sure they possess and can put those skills to work in real live interactions.
What’s Going On Here?
I foresee that this is the tip of what promises to become a veritable mountain of focused job skills training and personnel development materials. Companies and organizations are moving beyond recruiting entry-level talent to out-and-out development of such talent to make sure their intake pipelines remain filled with suitable candidates.
This is the kind of approach I’ve been advocating for here at GoCertify.com for years and years. It’s the kind of thing that government job programs at the regional and state levels will snap up with great appetite. It’s also an ideal fit for the kinds of offerings that community colleges generally offer to regional populations.
I can see great things coming of this kind of program, and wish Coursera and its partners extreme success. Why? Because everyone will benefit greatly from access to the Career Academy and its growing certificate portfolio. Alas, it’s still to early to tell if such success will be forthcoming. Stay tuned, though, and I’ll keep you posted.