A new initiative from online education resource Udacity and AT&T may actually help high-school graduates without college degrees get skilled tech jobs.
For $200 per month, users can enroll in a six- to 12-month program that gets them a "nanodegree," proof to job recruiters that they have successfully acquired a certain skill.
The initial offerings, beginning this fall, are in front-end web development, back-end web development, iOS development, and data analysis. Udacity has said another offering will be for Android development, and many more are planned.
AT&T is making up to 100 paid internships available to top applicants with nanodegrees, and will offer full scholarships for worthy candidates who could not otherwise afford a course.
It has invested $1.5 million into the initiative.
Udacity says it plans on working closely with other companies to develop courses and application programs similar to the one they collaborated with AT&T on.
Cloudera, salesforce.com, Autodesk, Technet, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, sf.citi, and the Business Roundtable have already agreed to recognize nanodegrees as valid job credentials.
While college-level online courses have been available for awhile now, research has shown that those who don't really need them — professionals who already have at least a bachelor's — are the majority of those using them.
A 2012 McKinsey report said that the world is on track to having a shortfall of as many as 85 million high- and middle-skilled workers by 2020.
"Research tells us that 65% of U.S. jobs will require some form of post-secondary education by 2020, yet fewer than 40% of Americans are educated beyond high school today," Jamie P. Merisotis, president of the Lumina Foundation, told CBS MoneyWatch last year.
If more companies like AT&T help develop these talent pipelines, nanodegrees could provide entry to good-paying jobs without the investment of increasingly expensive four-year degree programs.
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