Google Launches Cybersecurity Certificates for Entry-Level Workers

Google said the course, which costs $150 to $300 on average, takes less than six months to complete. Program will teach students the basics of cyber analyst work.

Google is expanding its Career Certificates program with a course in cybersecurity designed to teach newcomers to the field the basic skills necessary to work as an analyst.

Phil Venables, chief information security officer at Google Cloud, said the course will teach students foundational concepts to work in a security-operations center, including identifying risks and vulnerabilities, using standard security tools and working with coding languages such as Python. Google’s staff teach the curriculum, which was developed with a number of Fortune 500 companies

Google Cloud CISO Phil Venables. He said: “You can’t just wish there were more cybersecurity people, you’ve got to create them through training.”

While the program isn’t designed to teach specialized areas of cybersecurity, such as penetration testing or cloud security, it is meant to provide an intensive course for core skills from which students can then gain employment and specialize, he said.

“To give people real skills for an entry-level position, you actually have to get quite deep, which means you can’t go broad,” Mr. Venables said.

There is a shortage of qualified cybersecurity workers in the U.S., with more than 755,000 jobs open at companies and government bodies, according to data from industry associations and the federal government.

In July 2022, the White House held a summit with a number of companies, lobby groups and schools to hash out an appropriate response to the skills shortage. That resulted in major employers, including Google, pledging millions of dollars to invest in training, apprenticeships and partnerships with academic institutions.

Google said that its course, which costs $150 to $300 on average, takes less than six months to complete, similar to others offered under the Career Certificates program, such as information-technology support and marketing. More than 300,000 people globally have graduated from its broader program to date, Google said.

The company has partnered with schools including the University of Texas system, Syracuse University and the Northern Virginia Community College system, to offer the certificate. Students who complete the course will also earn the CompTIA Security+ credential, regarded as a core certification for entry-level roles.
Members of Google’s employer consortium have said they would regard the certificate as a proper qualification for entry-level roles. Alex Schuchman, CISO at household goods manufacturer Colgate-Palmolive Co. , said that the short nature of the course offers significant advantages over typical four-year college degrees, in that it can be adapted to keep up with changes in cybersecurity. The company will use it to attract new staff, and help existing employees train in cyber skills, he said.

“People are moving into the cyber field because they see it as, obviously, a career growth opportunity. It’s a hot job market,” Mr. Schuchman said. Employees who have experience in roles such as network engineering, support and technology could use the certificate to make the move, he said.

Credit-card issuer American Express Co. “will almost certainly” hire graduates of the program, CISO Fred Gibbins said. His team has grown every year for the past 10, he said, declining to specify the size of his group.

Mr. Gibbins is looking to the program as one source of diverse candidates, he said.

Google said that over half of graduates from its certificate program, part of the broader Grow with Google education project launched in 2017 identify as Asian, Black or Latino. It has partnered with cybersecurity groups such as Women in Cybersecurity, Cyversity and Raices Cyber for its new certificate, all of whom focus on increasing diversity and helping underserved segments of the population enter the workforce, and will offer the certificate to members.

“I think there’s a general recognition that you can’t just wish there were more cybersecurity people, you’ve got to create them through training, but you also got to create that entry path to bring them up,” Google’s Mr. Venables said.