Google expands certificate programs’ reach by partnering with Guild

Dive Brief:

  • Google announced Thursday that its five career certificates will be available through Guild Education, a company that connects employers with education options for their workers. 
  • Three of the programs — in data analytics, project management and user experience design  were announced in July. Google is also growing its apprenticeship program and employer consortium.
  • It is one of several tech companies developing curriculum to distribute on its own or in partnership with colleges.

Dive Insight:

Google is positioning the certificates as an opportunity for people without a college diploma to access high-paying fields. But the move is part of major tech employers’ bigger strategy to create and distribute curriculum in fields relevant to their business areas. In some cases, they are offering the curriculum on their own, while in others they are working through colleges to reach students. 

For instance, Google has partnered with more than 100 community colleges to offer its IT support certificate, according to a company spokesperson. Amazon Web Services, meanwhile, is deploying its cloud computing curriculum at two- and four-year colleges nationwide. And Facebook offers a digital marketing certificate through postsecondary institutions. 

Although the programs can often be embedded in degrees, observers say they may lead employers to put less emphasis on traditional credentials in the hiring process. Google reinforced that idea last summer when one of its executives tweeted that the company would treat the three new career certificates “as the equivalent of a four-year degree for related roles.”

Colleges that offer programming developed by tech companies have told Higher Ed Dive that they help address a need to provide training for in-demand fields. However, working with more than one company can be costly for colleges, and some observers question how transferable the skills are among vendors. 

Google’s career certificates are also available through Coursera, which saw its user base balloon during the pandemic. The number of people registered on its platform grew from 46 million in 2019 to 77 million last year, according to documents it recently filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

The filings note that Google’s IT support certificate is part of an “admissions pathway” for students seeking a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of London through Coursera. One in three students enrolled in the degree at the end of last year was also in the certificate program. And one in 10 started the certificate prior to the degree.

A Guild spokesperson said the company expects to make the certificates available to employers on its platform later this year.

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