Governor Josh Shapiro announced the public-private partnership between tech giant Google and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) on Tuesday, September 5. The program will allow students to gain certificates under Google’s various career courses through their undergraduate classes.
Google’s online learning program offers training in cybersecurity, data analytics, digital marketing, business intelligence, IT support, project management and user experience design (UX).
Cynthia Shapira, chairwoman of the state system’s board of governors, said that the state system is the first higher education entity in Pennsylvania to bring Google career certificates to its students.
“It’s time for a blueprint for higher education focused on competitiveness and workforce development, one that is grounded in access and affordability,” Shapiro said. “Today, PASSHE has given us a clear example of what that can look like in practice by connecting classroom learning to job-ready skills development so our students get the best of both worlds.”
Eight schools are participating in the launch phase of the initiative, including Slippery Rock, Commonwealth, East Stroudsburg, Indiana, Kutztown, PennWest, Millersville and Shippensburg universities.
Michael Zieg, SRU interim provost and vice president of academic affairs acknowledged the announcement.
“SRU is excited to offer students the opportunity to earn these certificates as a way to add even more value to their college experience. Students will be able to develop new skills that complement and enhance what they gain from their existing degree programs,” he said. “Certificate programs like this give our students as many tools as possible to prepare them for the dynamic labor market they will be entering.”
The program is open to PASSHE students and Pennsylvania community members. According to PASSHE, the public can receive certification through non-credit options to the community and partnerships with employers without any prior degree or experience. The certificates can be completed online within three to six months of part-time study.
Students and members of the public will have access to Google’s employer consortium upon program completion, with over 150 companies that look for Google-certified talent.
Richard Marchand, chair of mathematics and statistics at SRU commented on how the certificates relate to existing degree programs on campus.
“The Google certifications are great opportunities for students to explore a new field, develop fundamental skills and prepare for more advanced coursework, all at the same time. The data analytics certificate would provide a good introduction to the field. If students enjoy the experience, they should consider a master’s degree in data analytics that more thoroughly prepares them for a career,” he said.
The courses will be free to state system students during the 2023-24 school year, and universities will individually determine course costs moving forward.
Sam Thangiah, chair of computer science, noted the uniqueness of gaining a certificate of this caliber without the usual accompanying price tag.
“Certifications offered by tech giants such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon are sought after by nearly all tech companies, but such certifications are financially expensive. SRU students majoring in computing and cybersecurity have the required background and knowledge content to seek Google certifications. For PASSHE and Google to jointly offer the opportunity for our students to obtain Google certification is another plus for students majoring in computing and cybersecurity at SRU as it will give them an edge in the job market.”