The tech giant Google has announced they will begin accepting Google Learning Certificates in place of college degrees, offering six-month courses for prospective employees to train for in-demand jobs in a fraction of the time it would take at University. The qualification will see successful students graduate with a Google Career Certificate, which will be viewed by the company as the equivalent of a four-year degree for similar roles.
The cost of the courses hasn’t yet been revealed but estimates based on the company’s existing certificates predict it would be around $300 and Google has already announced it will be sourcing funds for 100,000 scholarships. The courses will give successful students the skills they need to enter into high-paying career fields with growth potential, focusing on subjects such as Data Analytics, Project Management, and User Experience Design to be taught by Google employees.
"These new career programs are designed and taught by Google employees who work in these fields. The programs equip participants with the essential skills they need to get a job. No degree or prior experience is required to take the courses," wrote Kent Walker, a senior vice president of global affairs at Google, in a blog post. "Take Yves Cooper, who enrolled in the program through our Grow with Google Partner, Merit America, while working as a van driver. Within five days of completing the program, he was offered a role as an IT helpdesk technician at a nonprofit in his hometown of Washington, D.C.”
The shift from conventional academia comes in the face of criticism surrounding degrees regarding their accessibility to students. The financial burden of courses that take several years to complete can leave students with enormous debts for years following their graduation. Without job security or the guarantee of a decent wage, undertaking a degree can leave some students worse than they started off. In contrast, the Google Career Certificate aims to prepare students for immediate work for a fraction of the cost of traditional college degrees.
“Technology has been a lifeline to help many small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. And online tools can help people get new skills and find good-paying jobs,” Walker wrote. “College degrees are out of reach for many Americans, and you shouldn’t need a college diploma to have economic security. We need new, accessible job-training solutions – from enhanced vocational programs to online education - to help America recover and rebuild.”