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Upskilling America: 100 colleges to offer Google IT course in 2020

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Google is expanding its professional information technology certification course to reach thousands more learners across America.

Google’s beginner-level course in information technology will soon be available in 100 community colleges across the US, following the technology giant’s decision to expand the popular programme to meet growing talent demands.

As more businesses ride the digital transformation wave, IT support has become an increasingly dynamic field and fast-growing field, with more than 215,000 roles currently unfilled in the US. 

According to recent data, the field was estimated to grow 10 percent between 2018 and 2028–faster than the average of all other occupations. Commensurate with this growth is how lucrative the sector has become for employees; according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median salary for IT support roles is US$53,470.

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To upskill America and help meet business IT needs, Google launched the Google IT Support Professional Certificate in January last year as part of the Grow with Google initiative to create economic opportunity for all. To make it available online, Google partnered with Coursera.

The five-course certificate requires no former college education and takes an average of six months to complete.

The programme has since then helped more than 85,000 people prepare for entry-level jobs in IT support, despite many having no initial experience or college degree. 

In fact, that’s the beauty of the programme–that it has zero barriers to entry. Google says this has succeeded in helping it achieve one of its key aims: to reach underserved populations. An initial study on the impact of the programme showed that 60 percent of participants identified as female, Black, Latino or veteran.

Melinda Williams, a cosmetology teacher and salon owner in Ohio, is among those who have benefited from the programme. Having always loved computers, Williams decided to take the plunge and enrolled in the programme through the North Central State College in Mansfield.

Five months later, she completed the programme and now, armed with a new set of skills, is ready to take her career down a different path.

“I believe it’s never too late to go in a new direction,” she says.

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North Central State College was among the inaugural batch of 30 community colleges where the IT certificate programme was offered. 

Come end-2020, Google plans to add a further 70 to the list to make an even 100, with the help of workforce development organisation Jobs for the Future (JFF). The expansion would see the course extend its reach to over 15 states, with an estimated 5,200 enrolments expected.

Explaining its reason for expansion, Google said: “With more than 5.7 million students currently enrolled in US community colleges, these schools play a vital role in creating economic opportunities.”

The firm also pointed to the success of the IT certificate programme to date, with 84 percent of people who went through it saying it impacted their career in one way or another within six months. Some said the new skills helped them get a raise, while others said it eitger helped them find a job or start a new business.

In addition, Google also plans to make it simpler for colleges to grant credits to those who have earned the IT certificate. The programme recently secured credit recommendation from the American Council on Education’s ACE Credit, the industry standard for translating workplace learning to college credit.

This ultimately means that those with the Google IT Support Professional Certificate can earn a recommended 12 college credits, which is the equivalent of four college courses at the associate degree level.