Google Funds Scholarships for Spouses to Become IT Support Specialists

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Google will give $1.7 million worth of scholarships to military spouses to become information technology specialists through the tech giant's IT Professional Support Certificate program.

The donation will fund 1,500 scholarships and support services available through Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) for spouses to become certified IT support specialists.

To qualify, spouses need to enroll in IVMF's Onward to Opportunity training program, available at 18 military bases as well as remotely.

The Google IT Professional Support Certificate program is an online training course that prepares students to become entry-level IT support specialists within eight to 12 months. The course itself is free, but it is offered through the Coursera online training platform, which costs $49 a month to join.

Google already had provided $2.5 million in grants to provide the training to troops, military spouses and veterans through the USO; the latest donation will specifically expand spouse training opportunities, Google.org executives said.

Related: Use the Military.com Veteran Skills Translator

"Military spouses are the unsung heroes of our armed forces. With frequent moves and families to care for while their partners are deployed, military spouses face steep challenges when trying to land a meaningful job," said Jacqueline Fuller, Google.org president, in a news release.

Military spouses have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, estimated to be between 16 percent and 24 percent. They also tend to be underemployed and make, on average, 40% less per year than their civilian peers, according to IVMF.

"Meaningful employment remains a pressing concern for those who have shouldered the burden of our nation's defense, to include military spouses," said Mike Haynie, a former Air Force officer who founded IVMF and serves as its executive director.

To access the course, spouses, including those of active-duty personnel, active members of U.S. National Guard or Reserve, or veterans with at least 180 days of service and an honorable discharge, should enroll in Onward to Opportunity, or O2O, which also offers more than 30 courses across three career tracks.

More than 33,000 veterans have been helped through the O2O program since 2015, either receiving help choosing a career path, receiving training, preparing for interviews or taking advantage of the program's job placement services. O2O has connections with more than 400 companies.

Google also announced Friday that it has launched a new search feature to help military spouses find remote jobs. An upgrade to Google's software allows users to type their field of work and "work from home" or "work remotely" in the search box to find opportunities.

Earlier this year, the tech firm introduced its military occupational specialty skills translator and other efforts to help veterans find jobs to the general public in a major Super Bowl advertisement.

Reactions to the translator have been mixed, however, with some veterans saying that the Google version is similar to those that were already available on the web.

-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @patriciakime.

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