Dive Brief: 

  • Google is launching three certificates on Coursera’s online platform in a bid to help workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced this week. 
  • The certificates  which will be in data analytics, project management and user experience design  will cost $49 a month and take three to six months to complete. Google will fund 100,000 need-based scholarships for those who take them. 
  • The new certificates build on Google’s ongoing efforts to shape curriculum at community colleges and build a pipeline of workers with the skills it needs. 

Dive Insight: 

The pandemic has put millions of people in the U.S. out of work, with unemployment levels peaking at 14.7% in April. Although the unemployment rate fell to around 11% in June, the recent surge in confirmed coronavirus cases across the country could hamper economic recovery. 

Google bills the new certificates, which will be available by the end of the year, as a way to help people without college diplomas find jobs. It will consider the completion of one of the programs as equivalent to a four-year degree for relevant roles at the company. 

Google already offers two information technology certificates through Coursera. 

One of the programs, in IT support, can be completed in under six months and the American Council on Education has recommended that its completion count for up to 12 college credits. Students who complete it can also share their information with a consortium of more than 50 employers, including Hulu, Infosys and PNC Bank.

More than 250,000 people have enrolled in the IT support program since its launch in January 2018, a Google spokesperson said in an email. She did not say exactly how many have completed it. 

Representatives for Google and Coursera declined to say how many students who completed the IT support program have been hired by the consortium. However, a Google spokesperson noted that 80% of graduates reported a positive occurrence in their employment prospects, including finding a new job or getting a raise or promotion. 

Google will create a similar hiring consortium for students who complete one of the new certificates. It will also be offering apprenticeships to some program graduates and launching the IT support certificate in career and technical high schools, starting with six this fall. 

Google says its work with high schools will expand on its partnership with more than 100 community colleges to offer the certificate. The company called on Jobs for the Future, a workforce development organization, to help colleges embed the program into their curriculum and customize it for their own use. 

Other tech giants have been teaming up with community colleges to craft curricula. Schools and companies say these types of partnerships help them ensure workers are graduating with relevant skills and create a more diverse pool of job candidates.

Facebook has partnered with Pathstream, a company that builds skills-training programs for software firms, to help it offer a digital marketing certificate to schools. 

And Amazon Web Services (AWS) has worked with two-year institutions across several states to integrate its cloud computing curriculum into certificates and degree programs. Last year, AWS announced it was teaming with Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University to create a four-year degree pathway in cloud computing. 

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