Google launches digital micro-credential courses, free scholarships

A new micro-credentialing program from Google has launched to train Australians in digital skills of “high demand” in six months or less, with 10,000 free scholarships to be offered to largely underrepresented groups.

As the tech skills crunch continues, Google’s Career Certificates program is set to deliver online training and industry-recognised micro-credentials in IT support, data analytics, project management, digital marketing and e-commerce, and UX design.

It forms part of the tech giant’s $1 billion, five-year Digital Future initiative, which has already seen the tech giant launch a research hub, and partner with the CSIRO on clean energy and Macquarie University on quantum computing.

Career Certificates will be offered through online learning platform Coursera at a cost of $56 per month and have backing from Australia Post, Woolworths, Canva, Optus and IAG, who have agreed to consider graduates from the program for jobs.

Image: Google Australia

Google Australia’s managing director Mel Silva said the courses, which take three to six months to complete, will not only “upskill Australians, but… connect them to jobs in really high-demand areas across the country”.

“These are short, flexible micro-credential courses. They’re designed to help Australians get the skills they need and connect them to the jobs that are in demand from employers across the country,” she said launching the initiative at Google’s Sydney office on Wednesday.

Ms Silva said the accessible nature of the courses – which use a mix of video assessments, hands on learning and introduce learners to “all the foundational skills” needed – make them “critical from an inclusivity point of view”.

“If you want to attract people who are looking to change their career or are perhaps at a different stage of life… and can’t commit to a long-term formal education program. Short, flexible micro-credentials are real enabler to closing the gap,” she said.

Ms Silva said the 10,000 free scholarships to be offered will focus on women and First Nations Australians – two groups that are “severely underrepresented” – in a bid to boost diversity in the sector.

Google has partnered with Indigitek, Project F, Generation Australian Code Like a Girl to help distribute the 10,000 scholarships.

The online courses emerged from an internal program aimed at helping Google to address a shortage of qualified people in its IT support functions and have been available in the United States since 2019.

Since the program became available in the US, 75 per cent of graduates have noticed an impact in their job prospects in six months, a “goal” that Google intends to replicate with Career Certificates in Australia, Ms Silva said.

Industry and Science minister Ed Husic, who was also present at the launch, said the initiative was important as it delivers for firms “looking to develop talent quickly”, with the scholarship component allowing underrepresented groups to upskill.

“Everyone should have an opportunity to participate because we need you in terms of the global race we’re in. We need talent, and we need firms like Google and others to contribute and work with us on it,” he said.

Mr Husic said efforts from the likes of Google and others to “step up and invest in skills and opportunity” were important and work hand in hand with the government’s efforts to deliver 20,000 more university places and 465,000 fee-free TAFE places.

Tech Councill of Australia chief executive Kate Pounder welcomed the program, which she said will help create new jobs. “Innovative training models like these are needed to reach our shared goal with the Australian Government of 1.2m tech jobs by 2030,” she said.

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