Recently, Google decided to launch a series of professional certification programs, that cater to skills for in-demand digital jobs, in a time period that is much less than that of a degree program. Here’s how this will impact job seekers, and college-goers.
Google's Master Plan
Priced at a much cheaper price than that of a college degree, these courses, being offered in partnership with Coursera are self-paced and are guaranteed to give the course-taker a working knowledge of the industry, without requiring any prior knowledge or experience! Not only does this enhance knowledge, but also provides employment opportunities. Google has even said that those who actually complete the entirety of the course, will be exposed directly to a group of top employers.
In attempts to reduce the dependency on traditional systems of higher education, Google has decided to incorporate the system of treating these career certificates as full-fledged four-year degrees for all related roles, when screening potential candidates. According to Google, the certificates will enable students to become job-ready for in-demand, high-paying roles and qualify for jobs across fields with median average annual salaries of more than $50,000.
Is Your Degree Becoming Redundant?
Degrees have long been perceived as the most essential credential to validate an individual’s knowledge and skill-set. It has held the quintessential value, which when associated, increases credibility manifolds, but also the ultimate thing that masses now hold. The traditional higher education degree has probably embarked on the journey of losing its significance.
Google is not the first corporate giant that has taken steps to undermine the need to have a traditional degree. Elon Musk openly declared that in case an individual has the required skill set, he doesn’t need a degree to join Tesla. In 2019, Tim Cook had revealed how half of Apple’s workforce recruited in the previous year, did not have a college degree. These top companies often attribute their attraction towards self-mad people, rather than college freshers by addressing the fact that there is often a gap in their learning and the required working knowledge of what is required in the industry. This thought process may even stem from seeing live examples of industry stalwarts like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg; both of whom, even though went to Harvard, never ended up completing their degrees and yet are at the top of their game.
Most colleges don’t have a dynamic curriculum that updates to keep up with changing trends in the industry norms. Even though people without a degree may have treaded down the untraditional path, but if they can prove their mettle by showcasing how they have the required know-hows to work their way around the job, they are hired. Companies usually don’t care about degrees till the time the skill set is being exhibited. Prominent companies still hire masses, but filter only on the basis of skill sets, and not on the basis of degrees. If you can get the same skill set by doing a 6-month course, that you’d gain after a 4 year long major, why would you even go for the latter? Colleges are often attributed to be ‘paid vacations’ which are supposed to prepare you for the real deal: Employment.
Employers usually look for skillsets that are more unique, specialised and abstract, which are less easily learned in college, as there are already a lot of college graduates, who, even though have a degree; are more commoditized. The value of paper degrees will inevitably decline when employers or other evaluators avail themselves of more efficient and holistic ways for applicants to demonstrate aptitude and skill. In the present world, where gig economies are booming, degrees prove to be an unnecessary liability. For the employee, it’s extra burdensome cost-wise and time consumption-wise, whereas for the employer, a more advanced degree will represent an overinvestment in education which will bring with itself a higher salary demand and lack of loyalty to the company, so as to move up in the corporate ladder.
The trend of corporate giants losing faith in degrees, and even the significant decline in degree-seeking enrolments has been very apparent. The rising college costs, and declining confidence in higher degrees plus, availability of alternatives is exposing a huge gap that could render degrees redundant. Yet, many colleges and universities continue to behave as they always have – which is to react slowly (if at all) to student and market trends, double-down on the degree as their only mode of education, and allow costs to rise unfettered!