Google, the behemoth technology company that has become a verb for online search, is offering financial aid to students who take their certificate programs in data analysis, project management and user experience.
Calling it “a digital jobs program to help America’s economic recovery,” the offering comes during record-high joblessness in the U.S. because of quarantines and shutdowns implemented to help stop the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
“College degrees are out of reach for many Americans, and you shouldn’t need a college diploma to have economic security,” wrote Kent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs at Google, in a blogpost.
In addition to workplaces, many college and university campuses shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. While 60% of campuses say they will hold classes in person this fall, 9% say they will be online only, and 24% say they will offer a hybrid of online and in-person classes.
“We need new, accessible job-training solutions – from enhanced vocational programs to online education – to help America recover and rebuild,” Walker wrote.
Google considers the certificates equivalent to a four-year degree, but they take only six months to complete. No college degree is required.
The courses normally cost $49 a month, but the company stated that it will make available 100,000 need-based scholarships, funded by Google.
The certificates teach proficiency in data analysis, project management and user experience design.
Data analysts "prepare, process, and analyze data for key insights,” Google stated. The certificate helps learners navigate “the data lifecycle using tools and platforms to process, analyze, visualize and gain insights from data.” The median average wage for data analysts is $66,000, it stated.
Project managers “are responsible for planning and overseeing projects to ensure they are completed efficiently with maximum quality and value added to the business.” Google’s certificate adds “insight into agile project management.” The median average wage is $93,000, according to Google.
User experience – or UX designers – “make technology easier and more enjoyable to use. They create or refine products and interfaces to make them useful, usable, and accessible to users,” the company’s announcement stated. Those certificates include lessons in design, wireframes and prototypes. The median annual wage for UX designers is about $75,000, Google said.
The studies will be hosted on Coursera, an online learning platform founded by Daphne Koller, who studied at Stanford University and University of California-Berkeley, and Andrew Ng, who studied at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and UC-Berkeley. Koller and Ng are professors at Stanford University.
Students worldwide, forced into online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, have lamented the quality of online classes. They point to inadequate internet connectivity and poor delivery of instruction. Educators, too, have complained about being unprepared to teach over the internet.
Google did not respond to emails sent by VOA Student Union.