Education is something that many Filipinos heavily invest in, and with good reason. “Mag-aral ka ng mabuti, para makakuha ka ng magandang trabaho.” (“Study hard so you can get a good job.”) Haven’t we all heard versions of that particular piece of advice growing up?
It’s well-meaning advice, though. To this day, most companies in the Philippines still require a college degree even for entry-level positions.
And then there’s the question of where your degree came from. Here, it’s a well-known fact that you need to come from the Big Four if you want to get ahead. A degree from a prestigious university is usually a ticket to a job in an equally prestigious (often high-paying) company. It’s why so many parents scrimp and save to send their kids to UP, Ateneo, De La Salle, or UST, even when there are other perfectly adequate colleges or universities.
This system has been in place for centuries, and it’s part of what’s causing widespread inequality in the country. I was fortunate enough to have attended one of the Big Four universities, but I’ve been in the remote work industry long enough to know that a degree from any of them doesn’t necessarily translate into top-notch skills.
Unfortunately, a lot of them are automatically disqualified in the traditional job application process. But can Google’s Career Certificates change that?
Let’s take a look.
Career Certificates: Google’s Plan to Disrupt the College Degree
A couple months back, the search engine giant announced that it would be launching professional courses designed to teach people how to do in-demand jobs. Think of it as something like those courses you take for remote jobs, but on steroids.
“College degrees are out of reach for many Americans, and you shouldn’t need a college diploma to have economic security,” writes Kent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs at Google. “We need new, accessible job-training solutions–from enhanced vocational programs to online education–to help America recover and rebuild.”
Walker further notes that Google will consider the career certificates as the equivalent of a four-year degree for related roles. The company has yet to reveal how much the courses cost, but if the similar program they’re currently offering on Coursera is anything to go by, it’ll definitely be so much more affordable than a college degree.
For reference, the Google IT Support Professional Certificate costs USD49 a month. That’s far less than what a college student would spend on textbooks in one semester alone.
In addition, these courses will take only six months to complete as opposed to four years. Furthermore, they address one of the biggest problems with higher education. You see, a debate has been going on over a college degree’s worth for some time now. They’re expensive and lengthy, yet they often fail to equip their graduates with skills needed in the real world. In comparison, Google’s courses were designed to equip students to immediately find work in high-paying and high-growth fields.
At the moment, Google is offering three programs for three in-demand positions: 1.) Project Manager, 2.) Data Analyst, and 3.) UX Designer. Best of all, Google employees working in the respective fields themselves design and teach the said courses.
What a Career Certificate Can (And Can’t) Do
Now, before you throw your college application forms away, do note that there are limitations to this. First, if you plan to become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, you will STILL need a degree. (Think about it. Would you really want to get surgery from someone who got their medical school diploma online and never set foot in an OR prior? Didn’t think so.)
Second, this is still a relatively new development. It’s certainly promising, yes. Google has established a consortium of over 50 employers who can and will tap into the graduates of their certificate program. These include companies like Walmart, Intel, Sprint, and Hulu, among others. However, if you fail to find a place among them, you may well end up going back to college if you want a job elsewhere.
Lastly, a Google Career Certificate is not a golden ticket. Unlike in some universities where you can get by if you play basketball for the school team, you still need to show up for the course. You do still need to put the work in to acquire the skills on offer throughout those six months.
Truthfully, there’s nothing new about Google’s Career Certificate courses. They’re much like any other online course on Udemy or Coursera out there. One difference is that they’ve got a household name backing them, sort of like a college degree from the Big Four. Only this time, they’re accessible to far more people.
It could take some time before this movement catches on in the Philippines, but there is good news too. An increasing number of remote employers abroad are more concerned about your skills rather than your degree (or lack thereof), so if you’re looking for a level playing field, the remote work industry could be it.
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