Students attending Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities can now earn tech industry-recognized certificates during their undergraduate studies through a new partnership with Google, Gov. Josh Shapiro announced Tuesday.
The initiative is intended to move students more quickly and less expensively from campuses into good-paying, high-demand jobs. It also would help employers meet their workforce demands, benefiting the state’s economy, officials said.
Members of the general public who are otherwise not enrolled in college also are eligible for the program.
To support continuing education, the universities “can also offer credentials to the public through non-credit courses and workshops, giving those who complete the program access to Google’s employer consortium,” officials said in a news release.
The public-private partnership between Google and the State System of Higher Education initially will involve eight institutions, including the Western Pennsylvania campuses of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Penn West University (California, Clarion, Edinboro) and Slippery Rock University.
The announcement comes as Shapiro and a working group he created examine ways to better deploy higher education resources across the state amid declining enrollment and growing financial stresses on campuses.
“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 in prepared remarks for a news conference at Millersville University in Lancaster County.
“Today, (the state system) 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,” the governor added.
The State System campuses are the least expensive public universities in the state. Base tuition has been frozen for five years at $7,716.
Training will involve the fields of cybersecurity, data analytics, digital marketing and e-commerce, business intelligence, IT support, project management and user-experience design, with no experience required
State system officials echoed support for an initiative they hope will reach thousands of students.
“Offering Google Career Certificates along with our own undergraduate courses prepares students with the comprehensive education and specific skills that employers want,” said State System Board of Governors Chair Cynthia Shapira. “Additionally, nonstudents can prepare for entry-level jobs with the option to continue earning more advanced credentials or pursue a four-year degree.”
An official with Google expressed high hopes for the partnership.
“Google is committed to helping people develop the skills they need to succeed in an increasingly digital economy,” said Mark Isakowitz, vice president of government affairs and public policy. “We appreciate Gov. Shapiro’s commitment to offering more pathways to great careers in Pennsylvania.”
Google employees developed the Google Career Certificates to support workers in high-demand fields. The program includes an employer consortium of more than 150 companies, including Google and Pennsylvania-based companies such as SAP, Expedient, the Project Management Institute and CMI Media Group.
More than 200,000 people already have graduated from the program elsewhere in the United States and 75% reported a positive career impact, officials said.
Bill Schackner is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .