Google says universities are no longer needed

Google announced this week that it is introducing new professional education certifications that can be earned after six months of training. This initiative is designed to provide Americans with additional career opportunities. Also, representatives of the company made it clear to the candidates that they would consider these certificates, which are issued without regard to work experience and higher education, along with bachelor’s degrees.

For a long-suffering education sector that is already beset by problems such as declining enrollment rates, a snail’s pace of curriculum change, difficult distance learning, and too high a cost, this move by Google and its employees could be the start of a long-looming digital revolution. …

New programs from Google

July 14th Google launched new professional certification programs in Data Analysis, Project Management and UX Design on the Coursera platform. The platform charges students a monthly fee of $ 49, but Google plans to provide one hundred thousand needy scholarships that will cover these costs. In addition, the corporation will provide more than $ 10 million in grants to a number of non-profit organizations that partner with companies to employ women, veterans and discriminated groups.

Google names the average annual earnings for each of the areas; the most profitable turns out to be a project management program with a salary of $ 93,000. According to representatives, 80% of employees who took a technical support course ended up finding a new job or getting a promotion. No work experience in the relevant field or higher education is required to enter the program. And once they complete their studies – usually three to six months – graduates have a good chance of joining the tech giant.

Kent Walker, senior vice president of corporate affairs, said on his Twitter account:

“We ourselves, in the process of hiring employees for the relevant positions, will equate these certificates with a bachelor’s degree.”

On June 30, two weeks before Google’s announcement, Microsoft announced in your blog launching a global initiative to improve the skills of 25 million people. Microsoft’s goals in light of the pandemic (to support “the most equitable recovery possible through programs that make it easier to learn skills over virtual channels for the people most affected by layoffs: low-income people, women, discriminated minorities”) show strong similarities with ambition Google.

The Microsoft Certification Program will be driven by resources from LinkedIn, GitHub and Microsoft; $ 20 million in grants will also go to non-profit organizations. 25% of this amount will go to those organizations that work on employment issues in close collaboration with communities of color or under the leadership of their representatives. Until March 2021, LinkedIn will open courses for program participants in a variety of professions (developer, sales representative, system administrator, data analyst, financial analyst, graphic designer and project manager).

Not only format, but also content

Coursera raised $ 130 million in investment this week; generally, according to Forbes, the company is valued at two and a half billion dollars. The Coursera service works with one hundred and sixty universities and offers users four and a half thousand MOOCs (open and large-scale online courses). In a Harvard Business Review contributor to the Coursera chapter, a statement was made that “higher education needs to make long-term plans for organizing virtual learning.” There is no doubt that in a new era, the learning process requires hardware, software, communications and the formation of a catalog of online courses from advanced institutions.

But technology alone cannot save the day. The authors pay too much attention to educational tools and overlook the problem of meeting the content of the courses with the requirements for workers. Higher education has already faced difficulties in trying to quickly and flexibly change the program to meet the requirements of students and employers.

According to Microsoft estimates, in 2020 the number of unemployed people in the world could rise to a quarter of a billion due to automation of processes and a market collapse during a pandemic. But they also point to the fact that there will be one hundred and forty-nine million new jobs in the IT sector over the next five years; most of them are in the development, analysis and protection of data, cybersecurity.

Coursera’s pace of development alone is proof that employers can no longer wait for qualified talent. 25% of all Coursera profits come from working with private businesses. The platform now runs 2,500 courses for companies on an ongoing basis, and each year brings it 70% growth.

Decline in the number of applicants

Experts predicted that this fall, college decrease by 20%, however, a downward trend in the number of applicants was observed before the pandemic. how reports Bloomberg, Harvard in the last academic year lost four hundred and fifteen million dollars in profit, and next year it is expected to lose seven hundred and fifteen million dollars.

According to statistics presented in the report of the Student Clearing Research Center for Fall 2019, the total number of students enrolled by the end of last year was less than eighteen million – that is, two million less than at its peak in 2011. Over the past eight years, the number of applicants to all types of tertiary education (public universities, community colleges, private institutions) decreased across the country by 11%

April survey of research company SimpsonScarborough, the results of which presented in Business Insider, showed that 10% of high school students are not going to get a bachelor’s degree. A closer look at the numbers reveals a disparity: 41% of racial minority students said they did not plan to go to college in the fall or “haven’t decided yet,” while only 24% of white students gave similar answers.

Google expresses hope that a budget certification program, which requires no more than three hundred dollars in investment, can solve the problem of inequality in access to education in at least some areas. “Bachelor’s degree gives students a lot, but not everyone can apply for it”, – is talking Lisa Gevelber, Google VP of Marketing. Based on a CNBC report, Google claims that 58% of students who earn the company’s IT certifications are African American, Hispanic, veteran, or female, and 45% receive less than $ 30,000 a year.

Microsoft sees two sources of the problem: on the one hand, discriminated groups receive minimal opportunities and assistance in learning skills, and on the other hand, over the past twenty years, companies have invested less and less in training their employees. For workers already in senior positions, the representatives said they were twice as likely to receive on-the-job training. Those whose jobs are easier to automate remain in an extremely vulnerable position.

The educational revolution: now or never

Microsoft’s initiative goes beyond the technical organization of the course. Its program offers free access to up-to-date labor market data and skills demand analysis. This can help government, officials, business leaders understand what is happening in the local labor market: which companies need employees, which positions are most often hired, and which skills are of particular value at the moment.

One of the problems with traditional curricula is that by the time a student completes their studies, the labor market will have changed. The slow pace of program development is inadequate to properly prepare students for employers’ demands. Should people continue to spend four years on classes (regular or virtual) just in order to enter the IT market with a diploma and find out that everything is different there now?

Adding to the complexity is the fact that “the education sector is famous for its resistance to change” declares Don Lerman from the School of Business. Gabelli of Fordham University in Times Higher Education. In its article “Will the coronavirus change the education system for the better?” she notes that universities need to establish a culture of responsiveness to the demands of the digital age and that there will be no better moment than now. Indeed, without radical change, higher education is in grave danger – many may wonder about the advisability of a four-year course of study.

In IT, there are a number of well-known examples of leaders who did not complete their education and nevertheless achieved resounding success: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Mark Zuckerberg. If you go beyond the IT sphere, you can remember Oprah, the head of Whole Foods John McKay, Ralph Lauren, Wolfgang Pak. Pak dropped out of school at fourteen and took a job as a chef’s assistant at a hotel.

Of course, these examples of incredibly successful specialists from different fields represent edge cases. However, there is reason to believe that the lack of a university degree is no longer an obstacle to engaging in highly skilled work and having good financial resources. Google’s IT certification program report says 61% of students have no college education, spend about six months studying, and earn an average of $ 54,760 per year.

To put it flatly, the price of a university diploma is set by companies that hire graduates. And Google has just actually stated that a three hundred dollar certificate is the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree.

Industries outside of IT are coming up with the same idea. The National Retail Federation has just launched in partnership with denim companies American Eagle Outfitters, Gap and Levi Strauss, a virtual education program for young and emerging retail workers. The program, called RISE, runs for eight weeks and allows participants to directly learn from the retail giants through recorded lectures that “provide opportunities for professional development.”

Other industries, from retail to healthcare, are undergoing a digital revolution – perhaps it is time for higher education to recognize the need for virtualization and a different approach to preparing students for the new realities of the labor market and talent requirements. Perhaps it is time to take a different look at the idea of ​​a four-year education and consider how universities could team up with industry associations and tech giants to jump online and get closer to the community. And at the same time and survive.

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