Computer Science instructor Penny Aldridge

This screen grab shows Computer Science instructor Penny Aldridge discussing materials with her students through Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.

Wallace State Community College's Computer Science program was recently commended for its newly-created Google IT Support Professional Certificate.

Through a grant from Jobs for the Future (JFF), Wallace State students can now earn the specialized online certificate, preparing them for an entry-level job in information technology support - one of the fastest growing jobs in the United States.

An update recently released from JFF indicated that Wallace State completers of the certificate make up 1,175 students to have successfully done so across 105 community colleges in 20 states, over a two-year span. Fifty-two percent of the program completers have been between the ages of 24 and 45, including 23 percent who had never previously taken an online class. Eighty-five percent of the completers said the certificate has had a positive impact, including 23 percent to say the certificate helped them earn a job or advance at their current positions. 

Joshua Apodaca completed the Google IT Support Professional Certificate at Wallace State in December, in addition to pursuing an associate degree in cyber-infused networking technology. Apodaca is currently employed as an operations technician for Mazda-Toyota Manufacturing in Huntsville.

“It’s a fantastic program, and I appreciate my instructors encouraging me to complete it. Once I finish my degree, one of my goals is to transfer into the IT Department at Mazda-Toyota, and I hope having the Google IT Certificate on my resume will speak volumes and give me a competitive advantage,” Apodaca said.

The five required courses for the certificate cover important IT components, including troubleshooting, customer services, networking, system administration, security and operating systems. The courses are hosted by the Qwiklabs online learning platform.

“The Google program is a great opportunity for learners who are interested in information technology. It provides a great foundation and builds skills needed to fulfill a high-demand, high-wage job,” said Wallace State computer science instructor Gregory Knight. “We’ve included the courses in our full-degree plan or students can complete those specific classes.”

Through the JFF grant, the IT Support Professional Certificate is available to community college students in 16 states, including at Wallace State. According to Burning Glass Data in 2018, there were 215,000 unfilled IT support jobs in the U.S, and the median wage for computer user specialists is $54,760 according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

JFF Vice President Kathy Mannes writes, “The Google IT Certificate program represents a new approach to workforce development in which a curriculum created by a high-profile employer is delivered by a college to help expand and diversify its talent pipeline. At the same time, the program has enabled community colleges to respond to the economic development and workforce needs of their local communities.

We’re excited about the contributions this work is making to the field, particularly in helping colleges support the needs of their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and better aligning high-demand programs with their local labor markets.”

For more information about enrolling in the Google IT Support Professional Certificate at Wallace State, contact Knight at 256.352.8158 or by email at gregory.knight@wallacestate.edu

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