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Tech Education Shouldn’t Just Be About Coding, According To Google CEO Sundar Pichai

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Teaching how to code isn't a sufficient methodology of bridging the skills gap in America's technology industry, Google CEO Sundar Pichai argues. In an op-ed published Jan. 18, the chief executive called for accessible, continuous medium-level tech training — citing examples from his home company.

When tech companies and Silicon Valley innovators focus predominantly, or almost exclusively on teaching how to code, Pichai thinks bigger opportunities become largely untapped and unexplored. Flexible, ongoing education options should be ready if individuals aim to "thrive in the digital world."

Sundar Pichai On Coding

"Nearly every digital-skills program over the past decade has focused on computer science, with a lot of emphasis on young students," wrote Pichai in NBC News's "Think" segment. "Coding, of course, is vital and a core skill for America to invest in."

But in a landscape that's vastly changing? Coding proves lacking, he argues. Previously, people went to school, learned skills, got a job, and that was that. But the paradigm has shifted, thanks to the implications of technology has had — and will have — in labor.

"Now, with technology changing rapidly and new job areas emerging and transforming constantly, that's no longer the case."

For instance, an administrator must be able to use programs for crucial recording and auditing processes, such as budgeting, scheduling, and accounting — but because these programs are often too complex for the typical employee to use, it could alienate them instead of aiding productivity.

Grow With Google

Pichai highlighted in his op-ed piece how Google attempts to bridge this skills gap. Its lower- and medium-level training, for instance, involves "Grow with Google" courses to acquire basic digital skills. Another is an IT support apprenticeship that shows young IT professionals that they didn't need to shell out mounds and mounds of cash for a degree just to be successful at their jobs. Plus, countless online courses on technology are available online.

"Through these trainings, people learn about using technology to research, to plan events, analyze data and more. They don't require a formal degree or certificate," wrote Pichai.

Plus, Google also has an online certificate program — with the help of Coursera — that equips an individual with the skills they need to become an IT support technician. Thousands of people can access that course for free, and the company also subsidizes its cost so many others are able to jump in and start learning.

Ultimately, Pichai thinks that Instead of treating education as a stepping stone, people must see it a way of life.

"Rather than thinking of education as the opening act, we need to make sure it's a constant, natural and simple act across life — with lightweight, flexible courses, skills and programs available to everyone."

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