Many thousands of people want jobs in tech, but they don’t necessarily have the time or money for a traditional education program. They need to learn skills quickly—which means turning to bootcamps, online programs, and certification courses. To help at least a few of these budding technologists along, Google recently announced a $100 million Google Career Certificates Fund.
The money will allow Social Finance, a nonprofit partnering with Google on this endeavor, to fund the earning of Google Career Certificates for 20,000 people.
Google Career Certificates cover a handful of tech areas, including project management, IT support, data analytics, and UX/UI. There’s no up-front cost for participants, and they’re expected to repay the cost of the program only if they land a job that pays over a minimum amount ($40,000 per year, according to Social Finance).
“Repayment terms, such as minimum earnings amount and monthly payment amounts, will vary by training provider,” Social Finance added in a statement on its website. “Social Finance will reinvest repayments back into the program for several years to enable future learners to benefit.” Current training providers include Merit America and Year Up, both nonprofits (if you’re interested, apply at those links).
In a Feb. 15 speech, Google CEO Sundar Pichai also claimed the program will “connect students to an employer consortium of more than 150 companies who are looking to hire workers with these skills.”
Google claims its certificates require under 10 hours of study per week, and that 75 percent of program graduates report an “improvement” in their career within six months. The programs require no background knowledge or previous experience, and the learning is asymmetrical, meaning you don’t have to sign into a virtual class at specific times.
On a broader level, is it worth earning certifications? For those just starting out on their tech journey, a certificate of some kind can assure a prospective employer that they have the necessary skills to actually do the job. However, not all technologists see the need to get certified: Dice’s latest Tech Salary Report makes it clear that, although many technologists have obtained at least one certification, their numbers haven’t significantly increased over the past few years. The percentage of technologists with a technical certification rose only slightly between 2020 and 2021, returning to the same level (47 percent) as in 2019.
That being said, there are key tech professions (such as cybersecurity) where certifications are an absolute must for many employers. Certifications also provide additional leverage in negotiations for salary, benefits, and increased responsibility.