Beyond Degrees: The Power of Skills

Author: Neil Frutuoso

It’s no secret that Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin believe in education: both their fathers were college professors and they credit much of their success to education, starting with pre-school at Montessori through their respective time at Stanford University.

But with the recently announced planned expansion of their career certificate program, Grow with Google, it’s clear Google doesn’t believe a college degree is necessary to gain a proper education and soft skills. The company’s career certificate program was designed to create accessible job training and provide individuals with economic security without the need for a college degree.

Building on the success of their current IT career certificate program, which has become the single most sought-after certificate on the Coursera platform, Google’s planned expansion will target those looking to become project managers, data analysts, and UX Designers.

The expansion announcement arrives mid-pandemic and couldn’t have been timed better. COVID-19 has rapidly disrupted the industry leaving universities scrambling to solve problems that were ignored in the past. One of those problems has been a shift within major companies such as Apple, IBM and Google to loosen degree requirements and go so far as stating that skills are more important than degrees.

Don’t believe us? Take it from these folks.

2013: “One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless.” Laszlo Block, Former SVP of People Operations at Google

2016: “Getting a job at today’s IBM does not always require a college degree; at some of our centers in the United States, as many as one third of employees have less than a four-year degree. What matters most is relevant skills, sometimes obtained through vocational training.” Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO

2017: “Increasingly I hear this mantra: skills, not degrees.” Jeff Weiner, CEO LinkedIn

2020: “In our own hiring, we will now treat these new career certificates as the equivalent of a four-year degree for related roles.” Kent Walker, Google SVP Global Affairs

With Americans losing jobs, demand for skill-based training is rising. Coupled with the fact that 40% of college freshmen are considering taking a gap year¹, the Grow With Google expansion makes a ton of sense.

While the concept of a certificate program is nothing new and even something you likely offer, the way Google is approaching theirs is a game-changer and something that can be easily duplicated by companies around the world. Google found a way to monetize their existing internal training efforts while getting to handpick the best of the best from their career certificate programs.

And it’s a win-win for Google and Certificate completers: even if you don’t get hired by Google, you have access to and visibility from a consortium of over 50 companies, including big names like Hulu, Intel, and Bank Of America.

Positioning and messaging around your graduate degrees and certificate programs have never been more important. Brainstorm with our experts today to push your teams outside their comfort zone.