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Google and Microsoft Online Certifications Encourage More Career Equity

Man working at this laptop with mobile phone
Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

The Great Lockdown, as our current times under COVID-19 are being called, has created countless hardships for people around the U.S. and around the world. Minorities and vulnerable populations who get the short end of the stick, the least support, the fewest resources during good times are even further pushed down in difficult, uncertain, tumultuous times like we are experiencing today. The necessary migration to online teaching for educational institutions ranging from elementary school to technical colleges to universities has increased the accepted legitimacy and value of remote learning.

One potentially encouraging outcome from our current quarantined way of life is gradually increasing access to certain job skills training and credible certifications for traditionally underrepresented groups and populations.

Google Addresses a Hurdle of Attending College

To address the huge demand for IT support roles, in July Google recently announced it was expanding its Google Career Certificates program to help people get qualifications in high-paying, high-growth job fields, with no college degree required. The Grow with Google initiative teaches job-ready computer skills that are in demand by national employers.

Google will offer 6-month technical training that it and other major employers would consider equivalent to a 4-year college degree for related roles. What’s more, Google said some students could manage to earn their certificate in as little as three months. According to Google, their training initiative seeks to offer underrepresented communities greater opportunity to obtain new digital skills and find good-paying jobs or grow their business.

Kent Walker, Google’s SVP of Global Affairs, said in a July 13 company blog post, “We’re especially proud that the Google IT Certificate provides a pathway to jobs for groups that are underrepresented in the tech industry: 58 percent of IT Certificate learners identify as Black, Latino, female or veteran.”

Nearly two-thirds of all new jobs created since 2010 require either high-level or medium-level digital skills, according to the Brookings Institute.

According to Linkedin, currently there are over 590,000 job openings for information technology (IT) support and help desk roles.

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Microsoft Offering Free LinkedIn Learning Courses

In June, Microsoft and Linkedin launched a joint program to provide skills training and reduced-priced certificates for the ten highest-in-demand jobs. LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft, is making other relevant skills for in-demand jobs available for free.

According to LinkedIn, the most in-demand jobs, based on job openings posted globally on its site, include:

Software developer (15+ million openings)

Sales representative (8.5+ million openings)

Project manager (2.7+ million openings)

IT administrator (2+ million openings)

Customer service specialist (1.8+ million openings)

Digital marketer (860,000+ openings)

IT support / helpdesk (590,000+ openings)

Data analyst (360,000+ openings)

Financial analyst (360,000+ openings)

Graphic designer (355,000+ openings)

Learning Digital Skills Promotes Greater Equality

According to the Brookings Institute, in 2016, the average annual wage for workers in high-level digital jobs was nearly $73,000, just over $48,000 for mid-level digital jobs, and just over $30,000 for low-level digital occupations. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a household earning less than $30,510 comprised of two adults and three children (under 18) is below the poverty threshold. In short, $30,000 is not even close to a livable wage for a modest-sized family.

Of course, the danger of looking at averages is that it is a broad brush estimate. Buying power in different regions of the company, or even different zip codes in the same city, varies widely and any salary level may buy more or less depending on location.

Low-digital (that is, more manual labor) jobs are more likely to be replaced by a machine or an app. According to the Brookings Institute, nearly 60 percent of low-digital occupations are more susceptible to being replaced through automation (think about how commonplace the self-checkout option is at brick-and-mortar stores today, replacing some cashier staff). Only about 30 percent of highly-digital occupations are susceptible to automation.

Wage growth in high-digital jobs between 2010 and 2016 increased an average of 0.8 percent, compared to 0.3 growth in middle-level jobs. Low-level occupations during that same period actually decreased by 0.2 percent, which translates to the hardest laboring workers working for even less than before during that time period.

Whites hold the majority of high-digital (such as engineering and management jobs) and mid-digital (such as business and finance, the arts, legal and education) jobs, making up 65 percent of the workforce. Blacks are overrepresented in the medium-digital space such as office and administrative support, community and social services, and low-digital jobs such as transportation, personal care, and building grounds and maintenance. Hispanics are “significantly underrepresented” in high-level digital technical, business and finance occupation groups, and underrepresented in medium-level legal, sales and education positions according to Brookings.

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