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Community Colleges Across the Nation Join Google Apprenticeship Program

Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), San Jose City College (SJCC) and the Austin Community College District (ACC) have joined Google’s first federally registered apprenticeship program through the Department of Labor, which works with state apprenticeship agencies to administer the program nationally.

Photo: Alex DudarPhoto: Alex Dudar

The Google IT Apprenticeship Program and other similar apprenticeship programs are designed to help students — particularly non-traditional students — train for new jobs. Such programs can help equip workers displaced amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic with the skills necessary to transition to new roles in the growing IT (informational technology) industry.

“It’s not only that we’re trying to connect industry to academics; [we’re also] connecting our communities, which is our mission,” said Sunil B. Gupta, dean of the Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development at BMCC. Students and apprentices can also earn a micro-credential which “basically consists of an industry-recognized credential that’s in demand, which can provide family sustaining wage jobs and also be a pathway to college enrollment,” he added.

The Google IT certification course is specifically designed for IT support — the apprenticeship program is supplementary to this two-month course, which is now administered remotely due to COVID-19. The course is designed to help students acquire digital, professional and technical skills leading to Google IT certification.

At BMCC, 40 students are taking the course and 5 apprentices were chosen by Google — through a competitive application process — to get additional, paid hands-on experience as part of the Google IT Apprenticeship Program. Currently, the apprenticeship is a pilot program enabling students to work as IT support specialists in the information technology sector. The class began in mid-August and will end in mid-October.

Gupta hopes that programs such as this can help BMCC “identify ways in which we can register these micro-credentials with the state, so that at some point in the future, they can be eligible for Pell and Tap grant funding, and we can further grant more equity of access to the communities in NYC.”

Given the prevalence of remote work amid the COVID-19 pandemic, IT skills and certification are in high demand, said Gupta.

Marcela Nouzovska, coordinator for continuing education and workforce development at ACC, echoed Gupta’s message about the importance of being part of the IT industry today.

“Regardless of what happens and what other challenges come our way, IT will always be essential to large corporations, small business, non-profits, as well as individuals. High tech companies, businesses, health organizations — they all need IT tech support personnel no matter if they function remotely or on site,” she said via email.

Dr. Lena Tran at SJCCDr. Lena Tran at SJCC

She explained that because ACC strives to provide high quality affordable training to prepare students for current jobs, students also have the opportunity to earn a CompTIA and Google dual credential. In other words, those who have earned a Google IT support professional certificate and have passed the CompTIA A+ 1000 series certification exam are competent in troubleshooting, customer service, networking, operating systems, system administration, security and data management. The cohort at ACC has 50 students in total — from that group, 9 apprentices were chosen.

Though a remote 8-week course/program may not work for everyone, an IT class can truly show students “where [they] belong or stand in the IT industry,” especially if they’re interested, said Charles Ross, an instructor for the Google IT support certificate course at ACC.

Over on the West Coast, Dr. Lena Tran, vice president of strategic partnerships and workforce innovation at SJCC, said that both Dr. Byron D. Clift Breland, the chancellor of the San José Evergreen Community College District (SJECCD), and Dr. Rowena M. Tomaneng, president of SJCC, envisioned economic recovery and closing racial equity gaps for Black and Brown students. Among the goals of partnerships like the one forged by Google and Pathstream is to help guide underprivileged students toward “high-earning, high wage” jobs, Tran said.

Tran explained that while “IT can be frightening … when our faculty work with the students, that ‘learn and earn’ model can take the students anywhere.” It is a model Tran said has worked before. For example, “when they finish, they can move to Ohio” and still have a Google IT certification, providing them “economic mobility,” she added.

Tuition for the Google IT course at SJCC is funded for 20 students, in addition to 8 apprentices who have opportunities to get hands-on paid training and certification. At the same time, there are opportunities to work at small businesses once students receive their certification, or the potential to get hired full-time by Google, Tran said.

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