Google CEO Sundar Pichai: Coding alone can’t save us from the skills gap

Too much importance put on the writing of code has created a skills gap in America’s technology industry and much of its workforce, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a Jan. 18 op-ed in which he called for accessible, continuous medium-level tech training — and touted Google-grown examples.

“The focus on code has left a potentially bigger opportunity largely unexplored,” Pichai wrote in an article larded heavily with descriptions of Google’s own explorations into said opportunity.

Flexible, ongoing educational options must be available if people are going to “thrive in the digital world,” Pichai said.

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“Rather than thinking of education as the opening act, we need to make sure it’s a constant, natural and simple act across life.”

He cited statistics depicting the need for both more employees to support higher-level technology workers, and a rising number of jobs requiring medium-level digital skills.

An office administrator, for example, needs to use online programs for budgeting, scheduling and accounting, and could become alienated by the technology, Pichai suggested.

At the same time, 150,000 IT-support positions stand wanting and such jobs are expected to increase by 10 percent by 2026 from 2016 numbers, he wrote in the “Think” section of NBC News online.

“We have a huge opportunity to rethink training for jobs that are core to the digital economy, but that don’t require coding. IT support is a clear opportunity,”  Pichai wrote.

Pichai devoted close to a third of the article to showcasing Google’s work on lower- and medium-level training, from its free “Grow with Google” online courses in basic digital skills to an IT-support apprenticeship program that he said showed young IT workers didn’t need expensive two-year computer science degrees to embark on their careers.

One of Google’s solutions for training up more IT-support workers has taken the shape of a partnership with Mountain View online-education giant Coursera, announced Jan. 16, to create an 8-12 month online certificate program that, Pichai wrote, “teaches everything you need to be an IT-support technician.”

Google is giving 10,000 people free access to the course, and is subsidizing it to keep the monthly cost to $49, he wrote.

The course “will connect graduates to job opportunities at places like Bank of America, Walmart, Sprint, GE Digital, Infosys, TEKSystems, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center — as well as Google,” according to Pichai.

“You can imagine this lightweight, focused model being applied to other tech-related jobs of the future: robust certification programs for project management, delivery fleet operation, and other jobs no one can imagine today, but that will be obvious — and ubiquitous — in five years’ time.”


Photo: Google CEO Sundar Pichai meets with Aditi Panwar, 10, of San Jose, left, Asmi Sawant, 10, center, of San Jose, and Aadya Batra, 9, right, of San Jose, during the ” Made with Code,” event, a program by Google to teach computer science to girls in Mountain View in August 2017. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)


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  • Online Discussion

    1. America, the nation with 350 millions people. We spent more than $11,000 per elementary student in 2010 and more than $12,000 per high school student, more than any other nation in the world. WE ARE SICK and TIRED of hearing America doesn’t produce enough skill workers, especially in the medical and IT field. That’s NOT TRUE. WE MUST PUSH BACK THIS baseless and deceitful argument. ! STOP H1B VISA! H1B VISA IS A SCAM and CORRUPTED. STOP OUTSOURCING IT JOBS TO OFFSHORE COMPANIES! MUST REVIEW and MAKE SURE ANY BACHELOR DEGREE OBTAINED OVERSEA IS LEGITIMATE ! WE MUST NOT ALLOW THE OUTSIDER KEEP INSULTING AMERICAN INTELLIGENT AND ABUSE AMERICAN TAX PAYER AND WORKER ! US LABOR DEPARTMENT MUST INVESTIGATE THE HIRING PRACTICE OF EVERY IT COMPANY IN US. THERE IS A BIG DIVERSITY ISSUE IN THE IT INDUSTRY ! WE MUST HIRING SKILLED AND TALENT AMERICAN WORKERS AND TRAINING AMERICAN WORK FORCES !
    2. With all that being said, American, we must work harder, a lot harder. We must focus more and more on education ! We must helping and guiding our children every step of the way. We are living in a every competitive world, there is no easy way out ! We competing with people willing to spend 8-9 hours after school! WE MUST SPEND MORE TIME ON STUDYING MATH, SCIENCE and COMPUTER SCIENCE !WE MUST retrain all the teacher and invest time, energy and money substantially in teaching math, science and computer.
    3. All school in US must teach student how to write a computer program (mandatory course) starting with 2nd grade! CODING IS A NATIONAL SECURITY.
    4. Make sure all the American from 6 – 60 know to code – TEACH EVERY AMERICAN HOW TO WRITE A COMPUTER PROGRAM USING PYTHON – IT’S DOABLE ! – All you need to know is how to use Google Search
    5. Open an accelerated IT training programs and computer labs across 50 states to train all the people currently unemployed and looking for a job.
    6. During the summer, we must come up with a program to hire a middle and high school students to work on a specific IT projects: quantum computing, cyber, mobile apps. internet security. NO MORE VACATION 🙁
    7. Invest heavily in the broadband infrastructure to bring high speed internet to EVERY SMALL TOWN, RURAL AREA, CITY and CORNER of America and make it affordable.
    8. Stop outsourcing high tech jobs oversea. WE ALREADY PACKED and MOVED ALL THE MANUFACTURING JOBS OVERSEA !
    9. Retrain all veteran to become a cyber security officer.
    10. We have too many students graduated from liberal arts ! There is nothing wrong with liberal arts, but there is not much demand out there for liberal arts- THERE IS A HUGE DEMAND FOR HIGH TECH jobs (programmers, DBA, network and storage engineer, cyber security…) – WE DON’T CARE ABOUT RAISING MINIMUM WAGE ! WE WANT A GOOD, DECENT and HIGH PAYING IT JOB !
    11. Every HIGH SCHOOL AND University in US must work with the high-tech industries: Google, Intel, HP, Oracle, Apple, IBM, Microsoft to come up with a co-op program.