Rural Community Colleges to Add Google Career Certificates

A pilot program launched by Google and the American Association of Community Colleges aims to increase access to training and technology careers in rural communities.
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  • Up to 20 community colleges will include Google Career Certificates through the pilot program.
  • Google Career Certificates will feature a broad range of digital job-training programs.
  • Google has rapidly expanded its certificate program in recent years.

Google and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) are partnering to bring increased access to in-demand tech jobs to rural communities.

The new Google Career Certificates — Rural Serving Community Hub will help up to 20 community colleges integrate Google Career Certificates into their curriculum, AACC announced last week. The pilot program will look for "innovative rural colleges" to boost certificates and the remote workforce in rural areas.

“The pilot program will look for "innovative rural colleges" to boost certificates and the remote workforce in rural areas.”

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Walter Bumphus, president and CEO of AACC, said in a statement that he hopes the pilot program will "help to develop a model that can be scaled across the country."

"Students benefit by having access to career pathways, colleges benefit from real-world, real-time curriculum, and businesses benefit by having a qualified talent pool that is free of location-based constraints," Bumphus said.

The American Council on Education recommended last year that Google's certificates be recognized as college credit — for up to 12 credits.

The certificate program will give students at selected rural institutions a chance to train in high-demand fields. And it will open the door to remote jobs and allow those students to remain in their communities, Martha Parham, senior vice president of public relations at AACC, told BestColleges.

"I think we've all recognized that the shift that happened because of the pandemic is not going anywhere," Parham said. "The silver lining of that is there is an increased need for jobs in this sector."

The move also reflects a nationwide effort to bridge the digital divide and improve access to broadband in rural areas, Parham said.

Community colleges were disproportionately affected by a drop in enrollment during the pandemic, she added, estimating the decrease at roughly 10% on average.

These schools are often the only point of access to higher education in a community. And their smaller student enrollments often mean they don't have the resources to build out high-tech job-training programs on their own.

"It's beneficial to everyone to ensure that they're getting support for these programs that are helping people to really earn and learn skills that will get them a well-paying job," Parham said.

In addition to introducing the certificates to more rural community colleges, Google and the AACC hope to help those institutions build relationships with employers and boost enrollment in the certificate program.

The Rural Serving Community Hub is just the latest effort in Google's rapid certificate expansion. In 2021, the company made its career certificates free for community colleges and career and technical education high schools.

In recent years, large tech companies have invested in community colleges as they look to expand their workforces in areas like data analytics and other growing technological fields.

In 2017, IBM ramped up already-existing partnerships with community colleges to offer additional internships and apprenticeships. Microsoft, meanwhile, announced a campaign last year to recruit 250,000 people from community colleges into the cybersecurity field by 2025.