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Google Cloud Debuts Certification Learning Paths, Skill Badges

'We recognize that people want to develop cloud skills, and Google Cloud wants to be there for the individuals as well as for our customers in making all sorts of offerings easy and accessible to everyone,' Rochana Golani, director of Google Cloud learning and enablement, tells CRN.

Google Cloud is introducing new ways for partners and others to build and showcase their cloud computing skills.

Google Cloud skill badges are now available to help individuals demonstrate their cloud technology skills for employers, and new six-week learning paths will help guide partners through certification preparation.

“We recognize that people want to develop cloud skills, and Google Cloud wants to be there for the individuals as well as for our customers in making all sorts of offerings easy and accessible to everyone,” Rochana Golani, director of Google Cloud learning and enablement, told CRN.

Digital badges can be earned by completing labs and hands-on tests through training partner Qwiklabs, which Google Cloud has made free for 30 days through the end of 2020.

Nine beginners skill badges are available: creating and managing cloud resources, performing foundational infrastructure tasks in Google Cloud, setting up and configuring cloud environments in Google Cloud, deploying and managing cloud environments in Google Cloud, deploying to Kubernetes in Google Cloud, building interactive applications with Google Assistant, building a website on Google Cloud, gaining insights from data with BigQuery, and performing foundational data, machine learning and artificial intelligence tasks in Google Cloud.

“This truly demonstrates people's ability to do XYZ, whatever their skill is, in cloud,” Golani said. “It's an actual hands-on, performance-based assessment. People have always leveraged labs as a way to learn new skills, but now we're doing a hands-on, performance-based challenge or challenge project that allows them to prove their skill.”

The digital badges can be displayed on social media profiles and resumes.

Golani noted a spike in demand for Google Cloud learning resources: Enrollments in Google Cloud training on Coursera jumped by more than 500 percent year over year in April, and Google Cloud training completions more than doubled across all platforms and partners.

On April 2, Google Cloud announced -- in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and associated closure of test centers and stay-at-home advisories -- that it was expanding at-home learning through Qwiklabs and training partner Pluralsight with 30 days of free training for each. Those offers were available for those that signed up by May 31, but have been extended for the new digital badges and certification paths training.

“We are seeing definitely a huge spike in what is happening with cloud learning and skills development,” Golani said. “There was just this pent-up demand when the test centers closed. We're really using this opportunity to be helpful, get as many people on the paths and giving them the opportunities to skill up, because cloud continues to be a skill that's highly in demand.”

New Learning Paths

The new, dedicated six-week learning paths outline recommended Google Cloud training to help experienced cloud professionals prepare for the cloud provider’s Associate Cloud Engineer, Professional Data Engineer or Professional Cloud Architect certifications.

“The learning paths…put you on a guided path that allows you to get up to speed, even if you had little or no experience with cloud in the past,” Golani said. “We're creating more, if you will, prescriptive journeys in the six-week learning paths to help you to get there.”

Google Cloud recommends at least six months of hands-on Google Cloud experience before taking the Associate Cloud Engineer exam. It recommends three or more years of cloud industry experience and at least one year of experience designing and managing solutions using Google Cloud before preparing for the Professional Data Engineer certification.

At least three years of cloud industry experience, including at least one year of Google Cloud experience, is recommended for the Google Cloud Professional Cloud Architect certification, which this year was deemed the highest-paying IT certification in the United States for the second straight year by IT training company Global Knowledge. The learning path for the certification will cover how how to securely design, develop and manage robust, scalable, highly available and dynamic solutions to drive business objectives.

Google Cloud is offering online, proctored exams in English and Japanese for the three exams through testing partner Kryterion.

“Our certification testing is available remotely,” Golani said. “We currently do not have any intention to change that, because how things open up after COVID is still unclear, and this option to take testing remotely is something that we intend to continue to offer.”

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