GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Just one more course at Grand Rapids Community College and Ryan Linak will be out in the real world.

Finding a job related to his field of study won’t be an issue. 

“I can work for a huge manufacturer with network administration. I could possibly do government contracting. Anywhere that has a computer is someplace that I could work,” he explained. 

But the Ryan Linaks of this world are hard to come by these days. The information technology field has been hard hit by a worker shortage.

“They’re flooded with work, and they just need people,” Linak said of the companies he’s talked to. 

That’s where Google comes in. The tech giant developed a professional IT certification program online, which launched in January.

Google says its program is aimed at training people with no prior experience to be an IT support professional in about eight months.

The company says since the online program rolled out five months ago, nearly 40,000 people have enrolled.

And starting this fall, it will be offered through GRCC.

It’s an opportunity for students who have no interest in a four-year college degree, but have a curiosity and willingness to learn.

“They’re (companies are) looking more for a person, and they’re willing to train on top of that. That’s how big their demand is right now,” explained Amy Mansfield, GRCC’s dean of workforce development.

The online program takes up to eight months to complete and is free with a great potential payoff. Google says the median annual wage for a support specialist is more than $52,000 a year.

“It’s really an opportunity for students who are going to complete the certificate to change the narrative of their lives,” said Mansfield.

“Probably even better than that is the opportunity to advance their names onto some of the big partners that Google has brought to the table,” she added.

Those partners include Walmart, Sprint and Bank of America.

Google’s online IT program also feeds the needs of an industry struggling because of a lack of workers.

“It slows down their ability to change and transform and move ahead,” explained John Vancil of the Grand Rapids-based consulting firm, Open Systems Technologies.

Vancil also serves on the board of West Michigan Tech Talent, a group of employers, educators and workforce experts focusing on IT workforce development.

He says a Google certificate is just a start — you need to be willing to continue learning.

“You’ll come out of a certification programs like that into an entry-level position and almost right off the bat, you’ll be asked to learn and certify in other technologies and skills,” he explained.

Details on sign up for the GRCC version of the program are still being worked out. The classes are expected to be ready for the fall semester.


Google IT support certification program