While the problems with education beyond high school are deep and numerous, three imposing questions loom over the rest. Together they make the continuation of our current model untenable for the future.
The first of the problems is the extent of student debt. Student loan debt in the United States totaled $1.6 trillion as of March 31, 2021. This figure dwarfs all other forms of debt except mortgages in this country. For the record, seniors continue to have student debt until retirement. For the most part, the debt is for bachelor’s degrees. Yet, in a recent study, investing in 40% of masters does not yield a positive return.
Then comes the persistent problem of non-completion. In nearly every other industry except gaming, customers wouldn’t put up with an entity taking tens of thousands of their dollars with no return. Michael J. Petrilli writes in Education Next, “the six-year completion rate for any degree or certificate is currently 62.2%. This means that 37.8% of students drop out without a diploma in their name. In the long run, it’s amazing that education consumers support this. How can we defend the fact that a third of those who enroll leave without a credential?
Third, among the problems, the majority of the workforce does not feel fully prepared for their jobs in this fourth industrial revolution. This is true among employers and employees. IBL News reports a recent large-scale survey conducted by Salesforce: “In research, a total of 76% of workers worldwide say they feel unequipped and unprepared to operate in a digitally driven world. However, only 28% of them are actively seeking vocational training. »
There are many more problems in our field, but these three problems weigh heavily on post-secondary education and society in general. These shortcomings have motivated some of the nation’s largest employers to drop their earlier requirements that job applicants must obtain a college degree. It’s seemed impossible to fix these problems – they’re too big, too pervasive, too daunting – that is, until now. Google has taken up the challenge, not to solve all problems for all, but rather to build an example of how we can solve these problems in a meaningful way.
Launched last year, the Google Career Certificate program offers the Project Management Certificate, Professional Data Analytics Certificate, Professional UX Design Certificate, Professional IT Support Certificate, and Professional IT Automation Certificate. All are for beginners in the field, and all are offered by Coursera and other institutions for as low as $39 per month after a free trial.
The American Council on Education recommends that 12 college credit hours be offered for certain certificates. “We are excited about this expansion of our Grow with Google Certificates program and the opportunity to partner with academic institutions across the United States, including community colleges, which are critical to workforce development. labor and economic mobility,” said Ruth Porat, CFO of Alphabet and Google. “We believe that to have sustainable economic growth, we must have inclusive growth, and we are committed to continuing to help people develop the digital skills they need to participate in this economy. »
Google has offered the certificate programs for free to community colleges, and a number of universities have incorporated the programs into their offerings. Notably, the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of London and the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science from the University of North Texas on Coursera as well as Northeastern University are among the institutions accepting college credit from entry-level Google certificates.
It’s a step up in that it’s compelling, high-quality offerings from a leader in the field. However, other certificates and certifications have been offered by leaders such as Microsoft and Cisco for years. The real game-changer, in my opinion, is Google’s employer partnership program. Starting with nearly 150 employers, many of them Fortune 500 companies, the program creates a pipeline for those who complete certificates to be top of the line for consideration for hiring. This bond goes far beyond the traditional college placement office by creating a two-way relationship with a wide range of employers highlighting certificate holders.
The Google Career Certificate program goes a long way toward solving the three main problems in post-secondary education. It’s affordable — with a $39-per-month certificate tuition program that should take about six months to complete — and is a program that’s not likely to add significantly to student debt. Recently, Google announced a $100 million Google Certificates Career Fund that “will enable Social Finance, a nonprofit partner of Google in this endeavor, to fund 20,000 people to obtain Google Career Certificates. . »
Given the shortness of the program, free trial period, and built-in supports for students, Google Certificate programs seem less likely to lead to a dropout rate approaching the nearly 38% of students who drop out. university without showing anything for their efforts. And, perhaps most directly, Google Certificates programs meet the needs of employees to be ready to thrive in the emerging digital world.
write in Inc., Jeff Steen suggests that higher education should take this into account. “While some sources say they’re best used to amplify an undergraduate degree — not replace it — Google’s low cost of entry and connection to over 140 companies makes it easy to get your foot in the door. technology… Regardless of the course of higher education, your efforts to upskill talent can only empower, uplift and support those who want to advance their careers, without forcing them to rack up debt.
Is your school affiliated with the Google Career Certificate program? Who at your institution sees the impact of this high-quality, low-cost initiative with an impressive placement program on your own IT academic offerings? Anyone considering how this model can be replicated in other areas?