Google Announces Three New IT Certificates
Google continues to do its part in making training and scholarships available for people interesting in reskilling for, or taking the plunge into, IT employment. The company's certificate offerings already include an IT Support Specialist and Google IT Automation with Python Professional items.
In earlier conversations last year with Google's Product Lead for its Grow with Google program, Natalie Van Kleef Conley, I'd learned that these existing courses have enrolled hundreds of thousands of students. These offerings reside on the Coursera online learning platform, and are offered for credit at numerous community colleges in the United States.
Starting with the upcoming fall semester of 2020, in fact, the IT support certificate will also be available at selected high schools that offer career preparation and technical/certification tracks as part of their overall curricula. Here's a link to the July 13 announcement from Google SVP of Global Affairs Ken Walker.
What's New on the Google Certificate Horizon?
Google's certificate home page doesn't disclose the exact timing on when these new certificates will become available. It simply says "coming soon." I presume this means these new items should be available later this year, with enrollment via Coursera probably available by the 2021 spring semester. I have launched in inquiry with Ms. Conley, and will report my findings here as and when I have additional news to share.
Here's a little more information about the three upcoming certificates, summarized from the selfsame certificate home page. I am reciting the Key Takeaways and median annual wage for professionals who work in the certificate's home field verbatim from the afore-linked Google "Career Certificates" page:
Data Analysts: These professionals employ data and analytical tools to help guide and inform business decision-making. This means that Data Analysts prepare, process and analyze data, generate insights and reports, communicate findings to management and stakeholders. Their primary function on the job is to provide data-driven recommendations, options, or selections to help companies and organizations take effective actions.
Key Takeway: This certificate helps learners develop confidence navigating the data lifecycle using tools and platforms to process, analyze, visualize and gain insights from data.
Median annual wage: $66,000.
Project Manager: These professionals handle planning and overseeing projects. Their primary responsibilities include making sure project are completed efficiently, that they meet quality standards and requirements, and that they add value to their parent companies or organizations.
Key Takeaway: This certificate focuses on the foundations of traditional project management, while also offering insight into agile project management.
Median annual wage: $93,000
UX Designer: UX is, of course, a variation on user interface design, now more popularly called "user experience design," abbreviated UX. UX designers serve to make technology more approachable by making it easier and, when possible, enjoyable to use. UX designers create and refine software products and interfaces to make them accessible, usable and useful to as many users as possible.
Key Takeaway: This certificate teaches learners the foundations of UX design and research, building low-fidelity designs and wireframes, creating high-fidelity prototypes, and testing.
Median annual wage: $75,000
Note: Google cites "Burning Glass, 2020" as its source for the median wage data they cite for each certificate's focused area of employment. I've used Burning Glass as a source for wage and job availability data myself for other certifications and job roles, and find them to be a generally reliable and reputable source for such data.
Google Will Fund 100,000 needs-based Scholarships and Provide $10M in job training Google.org Grants
According to Mr. Walker (the author of the afore-linked announcement) Google is doing more than offering these training materials. He also announced that the company plans to "fund 100,000 need[s]-based scholarships and at Google we will consider our new career certificates as the equivalent of a four-year degree for related roles."
This is a pretty big and strong equivalency — namely to declare they themselves will view the certificates as tantamount to a four-year college degree. In addition, Mr. Walker also shared his company's plan to commit $10 million in grants through Google.org for communities across the USA.
He goes onto reveal that this will occur through partnerships with organizations that include the YWCA, NPower (an organization whose mission is to create "pathways to economic prosperity [through] . . . digital careers for military veterans and young adults from underserved communities"), and JFF (a non-profit organization that seeks to "drive change in the American workforce and education systems to achieve economic advancement for all").
There's a lot here to like, and even to applaud, in what Google is doing to help individuals prepare for and find meaningful work in IT. I'll be very interested to see how — and when — these new certificates unfold and make themselves available to prospective candidates. Stay tuned, and I'll share what I learn with you about these IT certificates.