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Can Google Kill The Four-Year Degree?

Image via Good Free Photos on Unsplash

Most people will agree that going to college isn't about just getting an education and a degree. It provides young adults the opportunity to venture out on their own and do what they want without their parents watching over them.

Due to the coronavirus, colleges have had to resort to holding classes online and it appears many will continue to do so as the fall semester begins. As a result, a debate over the value of an online college experience is becoming increasingly popular in the news.

Perhaps agreeing that the value of a college degree without actually physically attending college may not make much sense, Google announced the creation of three new online certificate programs yesterday.

The "Google Career Certificates" cover Data Analytics, Project Management and User Experience (UX) Design. The launch of Google Career Certificates follows the launch of the Google IT Certificate program in 2018, which has become the most popular certificate on online learning platform Coursera.

The Google Career Certificate programs are taught by Google employees and can be completed in three to six months on Coursera. Google said the certificates will give individuals the "essential skills they need to get a job" while a degree or prior experience is not required to take the courses.

Google, which said it will consider the certificates as the equivalent to a four-year college degree for hiring purposes, listed the median average salary for related jobs. Google listed four jobs that each have a median average annual salary of more than $50,000. IT Support Specialists were the lowest of the four with an average annual salary of $54,760, while a Project Manager has an average annual salary of $93,000.

"This is not revenue-generating for Google," Google vice president Lisa Gevelber said. "There's a small cost from the Coursera platform itself — the current pricing is $49 a month — but we want to ensure that anyone who wants to have this opportunity, can have it."

Google also announced it will fund 100,000 scholarships to complete any of the Google Career Certificates. Google will also award $10 million in grants to the YWCA, NPower and JFF to assist in job training programs and increase access to digital skills for women, veterans and underserved Americans.

"While college degrees have tons of value, they are not accessible to everyone," Gevelber said. "And we believe that the absence of a college degree should not be a barrier to economic stability."

"Since 2017, we’ve helped 5 million Americans learn digital skills through Grow with Google and we promise to do our part to help even more people prepare for jobs, creating economic opportunity for everyone," Google said.

With nearly two-thirds of all new jobs created since 2010 requiring either high-level or medium-level digital skills, the move by Google could very easily pave the way for other technology giants to follow suit and add the four-year college degree to the list of things they've disrupted.

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