• Andrea Glispie

Google can't find enough workers, so it's working with a local community college to help

Photo by Arthur Osipyan on Unsplash

By Neetish Basnet, Dallas Business Journal (Source), July 16, 2018

Google is collaborating with a North Texas community college to bring its professional certificate course to students, in an attempt to develop a qualified IT labor pool.

When the Silicon Valley tech company found it challenging to find and hire qualified IT support specialists, it started training workers on the job, on the Google campus. The training program proved successful, so Google started offering the training program as an online course earlier this year. Now, it has announced that about 25 community colleges across the country also will provide the eight-month course.

Among the schools, Collin County Community College will offer Google’s IT Support Professional Certificate this fall.

According to Google, about 150,000 IT support jobs are currently vacant in the U.S. but there are not enough workers with the necessary skills to fill the positions.

The skills gap may widen even more, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects IT support specialist jobs will grow 11 percent in the next 10 years. By comparison, the average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

"[The program] helps provide the students here at Collin County with what they need to be competitive," said Neil Matkin, Collin College district president. "Not only on the county stage, which is growing quickly, but on the world stage. IT is an incredible career."

An IT support worker can earn a median hourly wage of more than $25, or a $52,810 annually.

Google has yet to release the details of the course, but Matkin said the college is prepared with sufficient resources, like teaching faculty and learning materials, to enroll a large turnout of students for the course.

The course does not require students to have any prior background in IT. Once students complete the course, they can seek job opportunities at companies that have joined Google's hiring consortium, which includes other large companies, such as Bank of America, Walmart, Sprint, Hulu, Infosys and GE Digital.

Google tasked the workforce development nonprofit, JFF, with overseeing the smooth integration of the program in all of the selected community colleges.

JFF will receive a Google.org grant that supports the program’s implementation and covers the cost of the program for students in need of financial assistance.“JFF has joined with Google to help community colleges offer the certificate for credit as part of ongoing curricula or credentials or by extending credit for prior learning to completers,” said Sara Lamback, associate director in JFF's Building Economic Opportunity Group.

The grant amount to each college varies according to the number of students it will enroll. JFF is yet to make the amounts public, Lamback said.The IT certificate course is a pilot program for now. The only other community college in Texas to offer the program is Houston’s Lone Star College.

“This initiative is part of Grow with Google’s effort to help individuals access middle-skill IT jobs in the rapidly evolving economy,” Lamback said. “Through the launch of the Google IT Support Professional Certificate and their support of both JFF and community colleges, they hope to prepare individuals for high-demand roles in IT support.”

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