Google IT Support Certification Program Off and Rolling
In August 2018 I wrote a GoCertify.com post about Google's IT Support Professional Certificate program. Much to my surprise and delight, that piece made this very website's 10 Most Popular Articles of 2018 list.
I was already thinking about following up on the program to see how it has been faring, when an Inside Higher Ed article caught my eye this morning. Using the headline "Google's Growing IT Certificate," the writer makes a nice play on the program's name while quietly announcing at the same time what I can only call an astonishing success.
The Google IT Support Certificate program is offered through online MOOC provider Coursera, and consists of five courses. Google is helping to underwrite the cost of student participation, too. All applicants are invited to apply for financial aid, which can involve a complete waiver of costs for program enrollment, participation, and earning a certificate at its conclusion.
That said, Google also offers access to course materials through Coursera to those who do NOT qualify for financial aid at an incredibly reasonable monthly fee of $49 (prices and currencies differ outside the United States, so YMMV). I think this explains some of the eye-popping statistics offered up in the aforelinked Inside Higher Ed article. Here's a brief recitation of some highlights:
? "Nearly 75,000 people have enrolled in the program," which is supported in part through the nation's network of nearly 1,500 community colleges.
? Nine months after the program's launch, "more than 8,000 people" have completed it. (That's all the more impressive given that the course typically requires 8 months to complete.)
? Natalie Van Kleef Conley, senior program manager for Grow with Google, asserts in the story that there are more than 200,000 unfilled IT support staff positions in the United States right now. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average annual starting salary for those position of more than $50,000.
Total program enrollment is at 74,596, which includes learners from "backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in tech, including women, African Americans, Latinos, veterans of the U.S. military, and people without a college education."
That insight is attributed to Ms. Van Kleef Conley, who goes on to say, "We know that traditionally more than 50 percent of learners in massive open online courses [MOOCs] already have a four-year college degree or advanced degree, so to attract a nontraditional learner base into a program like this is really meaningful." I concur, and applaud Google's effort and initiative in putting this program together.
Furthermore, the story reports that Google is upping the program's ante to help those who complete the curriculum and earn the certificate find meaningful work. In late June or early July, Google will provide an online "completer community" for program participants.
This resource will provide an online job board to help certificants find work, r�sum� templates to help them put themselves "out there" digitally, opportunities to practice interviewing skills virtually, and a "gap analysis" tool to help participants identify areas where they can improve and strengthen skills and knowledge.
At present, Google permits certificate holders to share resumes with 30 different employers. When the online "grad" community goes live in the near future, this pool should expand, and participants should be able to arm themselves more effectively to compete on the job market.
I'm delighted to see this program attracting so many participants, with a healthy population of certificants in its first "academic year" of life. I can't help but think these numbers will continue to grow and expand.
I've launched an inquiry with Ms. Van Kleef Conley to learn more about the role of community colleges in this effort going forward. I'm also going to find out what kinds of plans Google has to take this program outside the USA. Global demand for IT support professionals mirrors the U.S. job market's, but on a much larger scale.
Given Google's access to big data and the insights it brings, I'm sure they've got plans to take this program international. Let me see what I can find out, and I'll report back here.