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Google and Coursera Have a Plan to Help Fill Tech Job Gaps

March 3, 2017, 2:00 PM UTC
Google Cloud Event With VP Of Operations Urs Holzle
The silhouette of an attendee is seen checking his mobile phone prior to a Google Inc. Cloud event in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, March 25, 2014. Google Inc. cut prices on some Internet-based services for businesses by 30 percent or more, stepping up a challenge to Inc. and Microsoft Corp. in cloud computing. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Job gaps and the difficulty of filling highly technical roles has risen to the top of the national agenda with discussion, especially concerning immigration and H-1B work visas for specialty occupations.

That discussion partially reflects what has been described as a shortage of trained professionals, perhaps expressed nowhere more vocally right now than Silicon Valley and the technology industry.

Google (GOOGL) and Coursera, an online education provider, have announced they’ve teamed up with a new project aimed at filling some of these gaps—not just in the United States but worldwide.

Coursera already offers more than 2,000 online courses in nearly a dozen languages on topics ranging from business models and investment management to introduction to philosophy and the fundamentals of music theory. Accessible via mobile apps and desktop browsers, students can follow along with the material at their own pace.

Today, Coursera is adding a new class dedicated specifically about data engineering on Google Cloud. It is the first of five Google Cloud-centric courses that will cover machine learning, analytics, and app development soon. Course level range will run the gamut from introductory to intermediate to advanced learners.

The first class—a fundamentals course currently only available in English but accessible worldwide—is free to audit. To continue on, participants will need to pay $59 to access premium features, such as assessment grading, and to receive a completion certificate. Financial aid is available as well.

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But beyond fostering education, there are more benefits in this venture for both Google and Coursera. These courses are exclusive to Coursera, a for-profit company in contrast to non-profit Khan Academy, which also offers beginner to advanced business, math, and science education online. But an exclusive deal on IT job-friendly material bestows Coursera with a unique curriculum and an entry point for a specialized workforce. The company has already demonstrated a strategy to target IT professionals with last summer’s launch of Coursera for Business, an enterprise platform for companies.

And Google is in a fierce battle against market leader Amazon Web Services (AMZN) as well as Microsoft’s Azure (MSFT) to lure more customers to its cloud infrastructure. Online courses tailored to its cloud business and made widely available offers Google a new entry point as well to reach even more businesses and developers.

“Making this training more accessible is a major step toward creating a network of skilled professionals who can utilize the latest Google Cloud Platform technology to create innovative solutions to their business challenges,” wrote Leah Belsky, vice president of global business development at Coursera, in a blog post on Friday. “It’s also a major milestone in Coursera’s journey toward closing the global skills gap and empowering learners with career-relevant skills.”