Over the past four-ish years Google for Education, the tech behemoth's college/K-12 partnership program, has been slowly but surely developing a workforce “feeder system.” Google's aim is to provide itself (and business writ large; in particular businesses with an IT component) with an incoming stream of properly educated computing professionals and workers.
Google for Education has been pursuing this course by developing a sizable body of educational materials and establishing relationships with schools of all kinds. These include everything from primary and secondary education (K-12) to higher education at colleges and universities.
Google has made particularly strenuous efforts, however, to link up with the nearly 1,500 community colleges all over the United States that are a major source of workplace training. Indeed, molding needed workers is generally an express mandate for community colleges, most of which are supported by state and local taxes.
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All of this led me to read the recent Insider Higher Ed (January 17, 2020) story titled “Google Releases New IT Certificate” with great attention and interest. Just last week, Google launched a professional certificate in IT automation built around the Python programming language.
This course complements the company’s already available general IT support professional certificate program, launched in 2018. It is intended to address the lack of sufficiently trained Python professionals in the United States today.
As the afore-linked Inside Higher Ed story puts it, quoting from a Google news release, “Python Training is now the most in-demand programming language, and more than 530,000 U.S. jobs, including 75,000 entry-level jobs, require Python proficiency.” The new certificate takes six months to complete and enables participants to acquire Python, Git, and IT automation skills along the way.
Just recently (see this October 2019 Inside Higher Ed story) Google has increased the number of community colleges at which its certificates are offered from 30 to 100. This includes both the IT support professional and the Python/automation items amidst their more typical offerings, both in-class and online.
Google is working to build up the Python programming talent pool. The Google certificate programs are online, hosted on Coursera, and made available through the company’s community college affiliates. In that earlier story, Google’s product lead for its certificate programs, Natalie Van Kleef Conley, explained the benefits of the community college relationship as follows:
"The community college model includes wraparound support, so learners have a live instructor. They have the peer effects of a cohort around them. There are academic coaches in some cases. When you have those academic and social safety nets, we tend to expect that learners will progress through at stronger rates than an online learner doing it individually."
Given the increasing and overwhelming importance of automation (and thus also, basic programming skills in languages like Python, widely used for task automation in IT), it’s no wonder that Google has supplemented its certificate offerings with such a course of study. A separate offering called “Google’s Python Class” is also available online to anyone interested in signing up to learn more about basic Python syntax and structure.