To address a shortage of IT talent in the U.S., Google announced today that it is launching a Coursera training program for IT support professionals. The Google IT Support Professional Certificate
is designed to help students with no prior IT training get the experience needed for an entry-level job within eight to 12 months.
According to Google product lead Natalie Van Kleef Conley, the idea for the new Coursera program grew out of best practices developed during Google's internal IT residency program, which the company started in 2010.
"We really faced an issue a lot of companies contend with, where there are open IT roles and not enough candidates to fill them," Van Kleef Conley told VentureBeat in a phone interview. According to data that research firm Burning Glass
provided to Google, there are currently 150,000 unfilled jobs in IT support in the United States.
Google partnered with a nonprofit called YearUp
, which develops workforce training programs for low-income adults, to create a program that could prepare young professionals with no previous experience for entry-level roles in IT support.
"This taught us that IT is a really teachable field, and that we could essentially teach someone IT fundamentals in what amounted to about eight to 12 months time," Van Kleef Conley said.
The biggest challenge that graduates of online training programs often face is in convincing hiring managers that their program has provided enough hands-on experience to prepare them for a job. The Coursera program is attempting to address this issue by including a mix of hands-on case studies and interactive assessments, developed by Google employees. According to a press release, topics covered will include "troubleshooting and customer service, networking, operating systems, system administration, automation, and security."
To help aid Coursera graduates in the job search once they've got their certificate, Google is giving them the option to share their resumes with partner organizations, including Bank of America, Walmart, Sprint, GE Digital, PNC Bank, Infosys, TEKSystems, UPMC, and, of course, Google.
The program will cost $49 per month. However, need-based scholarships, funded by the nonprofit Google.org, will be offered to participants who come to the program through one of a number of nonprofits that Google partners with, including Year Up, Per Scholas, Goodwill, Student Veterans of America, and Upwardly Global. Google.org will also be providing full financial assistance to 3,500 qualified learners who apply by February 20
. In total, Google.org hopes to provide financial support to more than 10,000 learners.
Students need to complete six courses to complete the certificate. One of the courses interested students can begin working on today, while the other five courses are open for pre-enrollment and begin January 23.