Today, Business Insider had an opinion piece about Google's Career Certificates program, which allows non-degree learning to help people (especially people in IT) gain critical skills that can help them advance their careers. In our blog, we've previously discussed how the higher education market is has recognized the opportunity growth of lifetime learning and the nontraditional student.
Commercial Encroachment into Higher Education
What's interesting about this is that many large companies, such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Oracle have recognized that many people build their careers off of proficiency in their products. By providing curriculum and certificates around their products, these organizations not only create a new revenue stream, but they also create loyalty to their products.
Is this new?
Let me share an example close to home. 25 years ago, my brother graduated from a Big 10 University with an undergraduate degree in History. As you can imagine, he had a difficult time finding a job in his line of work. After 5 years of go-nowhere jobs, he took things into his own hands and got certified in Microsoft Active Directory and Networking. This jump started his career in IT.
What's new, however, is how Google is marketing it. Their info page reads like a Higher Education institution's degree overview, which includes an overview of the program and the median wage of certificate earners. What's unclear is how Youtube will fit into this initiative -- since it's already a major part of delivering educational content to consumers.
According to Robert Half, Certifications is a critical aspect of an IT professional's CV.
"IT certifications can open many doors throughout your career, especially when you’re searching for your next opportunity. Recruiters and hiring managers tend to look at the Certifications section of a tech resume before anything else."
In their article, they list out the 29 certifications that they recommend.
If you think this is unique to IT careers, you'd be wrong. The Hillerman Group describes The Top Certifications that Every Marketer should Have. My daughter (who's a marketing senior) had the opportunity to earn several of these during one of her internships and she's already been contacted by companies seeing those certifications on her LinkedIn profile. Another interesting note is that three of the certifications listed in the Marketing article are from Google.
What does this mean for Higher Education?
Although having companies like Google and Microsoft provide continuing education is not new; this is expected to be a significant area of growth. As higher education institutions seek to stay relevant in today's world, many will need to pay close attention to this area.