Google Career Certificates: Redefining college degrees

The importance of a college degree has been a long standing debate especially when it comes to hiring. Why do hiring managers continue to demand resumes from premium colleges? Are these hires better performers than those who come from other colleges? Does a degree guarantee success? Is the return on investment of a college degree worth it? Should one accept agonizing student loans as a part of life?

These questions barely scratch the surface of the confusion surrounding college degrees. Yet most organizations prefer doing what they have always done. Despite, multiple examples of successful professionals who have never held a college degree, job descriptions continue to mention degrees as a minimum requirement and organizations continue to prefer Tier 1 college graduates. Filtering criteria, without doubt, ease the burden of selection but aren’t always the wisest or the most ‘fair’ choice.  

It would be wrong to say that things aren’t changing. Select organizations like Apple and IBM have rewritten job descriptions to eliminate mentioning degrees. Others are masking college details from resumes. And then suddenly Google comes along to say – this isn’t enough; one doesn’t need to spend a fortune and four years to find respectable employment. Instead, here’s a better alternative.

Hosted on Coursera, Google career certificates are a selection of professional courses created by Google that teach candidates how to perform in-demand jobs. The courses intends to create future data analysts, project managers, UX Designers and more. Designed to be covered over six months, these need no prior experience, are likely cheaper than a traditional college degree and almost just as valuable if not more. Kent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs at Google tweeted that “In our own hiring, we will now treat these new career certificates as the equivalent of a four-year degree for related roles.” If that isn’t game changing, I do not know what is.

In addition to launching these courses, Google is funding 100,000 needs-based scholarships in support of the new programs and participants can “opt in to share [their] information directly with top employers hiring for jobs in these fields,” including such household names as Walmart, Best Buy, Intel, Bank of America, Hulu, and, of course, Google. Currently, the consortium has over 50 organizations and this list is only growing. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few other organization are kicking themselves for not having skin in the game sooner.

However, despite receiving multiple accolades, Google’s career certificates face healthy skepticism. The biggest being that students need more than just skills and certificates to survive in the real world. Higher education provides insight into a multitude of fields outside of what is required. Students dabble in art, environmental studies and brainstorm on many tangential aspects that supplement core requirements. Career certificates may not provide the same kind of broad student experiences. The other aspect is not knowing how many years it will take for these certificates to become mainstream if it ever does.

My opinion? I believe that we have a long way to go before education sector is truly disrupted. It does need a massive overhaul and it is for exactly this reason that we need to embrace every change that comes along our way and create little ones of our own.

Has your organization discussed Google certificates yet?


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