Google offers free IT certificates to community colleges, technical high schools

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Google will allow community colleges and technical education high schools to incorporate its technology certifications into their curriculums for free, the company announced last week.

Community colleges and schools can now offer Grow With Google certificate training as part of for-credit courses. The certificates, which are administered by the online learning provider Coursera, include data analytics, IT support, project management and user experience design.

The news comes after free community college was scrapped last week from President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan.

Google announced the program at a Friday event with Connecticut state officials and U.S. Secretary of Education Michael Cardona. In Connecticut, all state universities and community colleges already offer or plan to offer the certifications, according to the state. The certificate in IT support is slated to be the first to go statewide in 2022, offered at Connecticut institutions as well as in a non-credit course through the state university system’s workforce development office.

The expanded certificate program is designed to open up high-paying technical careers for the diverse student body that attends tech schools and community colleges, Alphabet and Google Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat wrote in a blog post. The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims demand for IT and computer-related occupations are growing faster than average, estimating a rise of 13% from 2020 to 2030.

“Community colleges are critical to workforce development and economic mobility, providing accessible education options for millions of Americans and opening doors to opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach,” Porat wrote. “With 44% of American undergraduates attending community colleges, and as the primary institutions serving students from underrepresented groups, there is no doubt they play an invaluable role across the U.S.”

There is no universal standard for how higher education institutions accept outside credentials, though the American Council on Education recommends its more than 1,500 members value Google certificates at between 9-12 credit hours, depending on the subject.

Google’s announcement followed news from Microsoft on Thursday that also targeted community colleges for filling gaps in the tech workforce. Microsoft plans to train 250,000 community college students in cybersecurity though free education resources and direct partnerships with community colleges.

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