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Google Awards $3.5M Grant to Expand IT Training Program

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  • Through a $3.5 million grant from Google, the company's IT Support Professional Certificate will be available to community colleges in 16 states by the end of 2020.
  • This new grant marks a $1.2 million increase from last year's grant to Jobs for the Future, which provided $2.3 million to fund the certificate in eight states.
  • Officials say 84% of students who pass the certification program usually find new jobs or internships within six months.

Community college students across the country will continue being able to get a leg up on their IT careers thanks to a $3.5 million grant from Google that funds an ongoing certification program with Jobs for the Future (JFF).

Speaking at an event earlier today at El Centro College in Dallas, Texas, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the continuation of the tech giant's IT Support Professional Certificate was part of the company's goal to "make sure that the opportunities created by technology are truly available to everyone."

"Grow with Google's IT Support Professional Certificate is one way we are equipping people with the digital skills for future careers," said Pichai. "I'm proud that we're expanding the program to more students in community colleges across the country."

Along with Pichai, President Donald Trump's senior advisor and daughter Ivanka Trump was on hand to discuss the importance of retaining workers in the U.S. through programs like the IT Professional Support Certificate. During the event, Pichai signed a pledge to the White House to help retain workers in the American tech industry.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Democratic congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas and Dallas County Community College District Chancellor Dr. Joe May also participated in the event.

As part of the Grow with Google initiative, the online program was developed and launched by the tech corporation in January 2018. The entire program is hosted by Coursera. After completing five beginner-level courses in less than six months, students with no experience or prior college degree can prepare for their foray into an IT support career. [For more information on Google certifications, check out our Guide to Google Cloud Certifications.]

According to the course website, more than 94,000 people have already enrolled in the program, which is available in English with Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese and Arabic subtitles.

With this latest infusion of funding, officials said the plan now is to expand the certificate program to community colleges in Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, Virginia and West Virginia by the start of the 2021-22 school year.

Last year, Google funded the certificate program with a $2.3 million grant that brought it to 30 community colleges in California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Texas, Colorado and Wisconsin.

"This initiative reflects JFF and Google's belief in the transformative – and often untapped – potential of community colleges across the nation," said Maria Flynn, president and CEO of JFF. "It's about building powerful connections between educators and employers, and leveraging technology in targeted ways to build a stronger workforce."

Since last year's funding push from Google, participating schools have incorporated the certificate in different ways. Some have added it to existing curricula, while others have provided it as a separate program. Recently, the American Council on Education's (ACE) College Credit Recommendation Service suggested that the certificate program should be worth 12 academic credits, or four full courses for the associate-degree-level learning curricula.

Regardless of how schools have added it to their educational offerings, officials said more than 85,000 people have participated in the program. Approximately 60% of enrollees identified as African American, Latinx or female. Veterans also participated in the program.

With more than 5.7 million students currently enrolled in community colleges, Louis Soares, ACE's chief learning and innovation officer, said being able to tap into that program helps ensure that they're preparing students to enter the workforce.

"A competitive workforce and an innovative economy need both formal postsecondary education and 'learning by doing' in the workplace," Soares said. "ACE is thrilled to support Google in their talent development strategies by evaluating formal certificates and training."

Since last year's infusion of funding, more than 35 community colleges are taking advantage of the program that officials have described as a boon to pupils. [Interested in IT certification training programs? Check out all our coverage.]

While some community colleges provide credits to students who earn the certificate, the real benefit comes in the form of potential business opportunities after completion. According to officials, 84% of students who pass the certification program usually find new jobs or internships within six months.

That sort of quick turnaround is beneficial for all involved parties, as IT support remains a growing industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the IT support field comes with a median salary of $53,470 for IT support specialists; it currently has approximately 215,000 open positions and is expected to grow by 10% between 2018 and 2028.

"The Google IT Support Professional Certificate has created hope and opportunities for thousands of learners by providing them with the skills needed to participate in the tech economy," said Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera's CEO. "We are really excited to work with Google to further expand the reach of this program among community colleges, where the majority of Americans come to learn and grow."

Andrew Martins

Andrew Martins is an award-winning journalist with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Ramapo College of New Jersey. Before joining Business.com and Business News Daily, he wrote for a regional publication and served as the managing editor for six weekly papers that spanned four counties. Currently, he is responsible for reviewing tax software and online fax services. He is a New Jersey native and a first-generation Portuguese American, and he has a penchant for the nerdy.

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