Commonwealth University to Launch Partnership with Google


Public-Private Partnership to Provide Important Skills Training, Support Job Readiness, Career Growth in Pennsylvania

Commonwealth University (CU) and Google are coming together to support a new public-private partnership to enable Commonwealth University students to earn industry-recognized certificates during their regular undergraduate programs to support their career readiness and help meet the workforce's evolving needs. The partnership provides skills training in the fields of cybersecurity, data analytics, digital marketing/e-commerce, business intelligence, IT support, project management, and user experience (UX) design, with no experience required.

Commonwealth University's offering is part of a larger partnership between Google and Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) that will reach thousands of students and workers across Pennsylvania, with training for some of the state's most in-demand jobs, including those within the communities near the Commonwealth University-Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, Mansfield, and Clearfield locations.

"It's time for a blueprint for higher education focused on competitiveness and workforce development, one that is grounded in access and affordability," Gov. Josh Shapiro said at the recent announcement of the larger partnership. "Today, PASSHE has given us a clear example of what that can look like in practice, by connecting classroom learning to job-ready skills development so our students get the best of both worlds."

"PASSHE is proud to partner with Google to provide students with the knowledge and skills for in-demand jobs and support the strong workforce that Pennsylvania needs," said Cynthia Shapira, PASSHE Board of Governors chairwoman. "Offering Google Career Certificates along with our own undergraduate courses prepares students with the comprehensive education and specific skills that employers want. Additionally, non-students can prepare for entry-level jobs with the option to continue earning more advanced credentials or pursue a four-year degree."

"Commonwealth University is eager to continue our mission of expanding opportunities for our students and community members in partnership with Google," said Bashar Hanna, CU president. "Access to education stands as a barrier for too many individuals in rural communities. This partnership actively addresses that need, while providing real-world skills and credentials in the high-demand fields that employers need. Together, we will continue to make a real difference in the lives of our students by preparing them for today's workforce with relevant skills acquired through an affordable, accessible education."

Google employees developed the Google Career Certificates to support skilling for in-demand fields. The program includes an employer consortium of over 150 companies - including Pennsylvania-based companies such as SAP, Expedient, the Project Management Institute, and Google - that hire talent trained in the certificate fields. More than 200,000 people have graduated from the program in the U.S., and 75% report a positive career impact, such as a new job, higher pay, or a promotion, within six months of completion.

"Google is thrilled to partner with PASSHE to help students and workers learn skills for some of the state's most in-demand jobs," said Lisa Gevelber, founder, Grow with Google. "We've called Pennsylvania home for over seventeen years with an office in Pittsburgh. We're proud to help more people connect with jobs and further their economic opportunities in the state by widening access to the Google Career Certificates program."

Commonwealth University is currently exploring several options for the first steps of the partnership, according to Hope Lineman, CU executive director of workforce. Such options include offering a certificate to current students as a value add to existing coursework, allowing them to earn college credit and an industry-recognized credential at the same time. Such just-in-time learning can have large real-world impacts for students, according to Lineman, who is also strategic advisor to the Chancellor on Workforce Innovation at PASSHE.

"History majors who acquire data analysis skills or English language and literature majors with project management skills such as those offered in partnership with Google, often increase their entry-level salary by at least 30%," Lineman said.

The certificates that will be offered through the program are also approved by the American Council on Education (ACE). This high standard of review means that the courses can help fulfill elective credits for current students and potentially expedite their time to degree.

"We know that the non-traditional and adult learner will stop in and out of education over a much longer period of time," Lineman said. "These short-term certifications and micro-credentials, that are stackable to degrees, can be life-changing."

The partnership at Commonwealth University could also extend to professional training for university employees and partnering business. Such possibilities include deploying Google Certificates as professional training and development to select staff to invest in their career growth as well as making training available to partnering businesses for their workers through a non-credit/workforce development unit.

The added certifications also align with the innovation and entrepreneurship courses already offered at Commonwealth University, providing even more opportunities to successfully launch students post-graduation.