The Technology Giant, Google, Also For Universities: Create Your Own Degrees For 250 Euros

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Now, Google wants to be a judge and part of both the job market and the education system. His latest move, with the creation of three of his own degrees in User Experience, Data Analysis and Project Management, directly challenges universities. Called professional certificates, their duration will be six months, online training will cost around 250 euros and the company itself grants it the same validity as a four-year degree related to any of these three areas , according to Kent Walker, vice president of Google Global Affairs.
The reason for this must be understood especially in the United States, where families face loans of tens of thousands of dollars to pay for a career, and in response to a business fabric, in which to include the technology giant, which complains year after year of the lack of qualified professionals. The time to present them does not seem accidental either, with a runaway global unemployment and upward digitization in all sectors due to the crisis caused by the coronavirus . “Certifications are not a substitute for university education, but rather are intended to offer new training possibilities. We are aware that there are many people interested in strengthening their skills ”, Google sources argue.
Those from Mountain View are not going to open their own university campus, but they are aware of the seduction that their brand generates . Thousands of young people yearn to work for them. With these certifications, they open a door capable of fulfilling their aspirations. If this claim were insufficient, Google is part of a consortium of 50 employers – which includes names such as Walmart, Intel or Bank of America – that takes into account during the selection processes having obtained any of its own titles. Not to mention the benefit obtained by the company, which instructs its future workers under its tutelage.
It is hardly surprising that an organization is committed to shaping those who will make up its staff . On the other hand, it does transform the rules of the game for a giant to offer highly qualified titles, in demand, at bargain prices and in record time. As Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business, points out, something similar has already happened with newspapers, which with the advent of the Internet progressively lost their information monopoly. First came classified ads, then movies and finally the news itself with Twitter, Facebook and Google. “In education, startups and big tech will emerge that will chop up the sector with the introduction of this type of professional certificates.”
The path taken by Google shakes up a debate that has been installed in university education for many years : how to adapt to the evolution of the labor market and how to combine theory with practice. The domain of Silicon Valley is not only technological, but also business and educational model. Hence, the requirements —the so-called skills—they sway to the sound of the valley. And from Mountain View they launch a new ordeal to the system in this trend of demanding skills, abilities and competencies more than a specific title. “For certain professions, like a programmer, it can be worth it. But higher education cannot just be technical. We have a duty to teach knowledge, not just what a company wants or what a sector asks for, ”says Rubén González, vice-rector for academic planning and teaching staff at the International University of La Rioja.
From the business side they recognize that they do not seek to supplant academic work. They appeal to collaboration as a meeting point, common with the vast majority of universities . Colossi like Amazon, through its AWS Academy, offer complementary training itineraries to regulated higher education, which the campuses then include in their academic curricula. Google sources maintain that they will continue to support traditional education, be it with scholarships, technology or internship programs. “Through our Google Activate platform we have trained more than 500,000 people in digital skills in Spain since 2014, and we have collaborated with 30 public universities throughout the country to deliver these trainings in person,” they point out.
The risk of resorting only to this entrepreneurial learning, at least that is how González puts it, is short-termism. In a short time, you train for a specific position, in high demand at that moment and well paid —the average salary of the three certifications raised by Google ranges between 60,000 and 80,000 euros per year. The problems begin when the years go by and it is time to grow professionally . “That’s when technical knowledge stops being relevant. If you think about a long working life, there are things that quickly become obsolete. The education you have as a base, preferably transversal, is what will allow you to grow ”.
It is still too early to assess the consequences. The United States is called to become the testing ground that shows some trend, although not conclusive due to the turbulent and unpredictable times imposed by the pandemic. In academia, at least for the moment, they are not afraid of the challenge posed by one of the great dominators of the world economy. “ We are also centers of innovation and research. We can transfer this knowledge to studies . We are prepared to listen to these initiatives and land them within our models ”, González concludes.

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