Data science: U-M partners with Google to offer job-ready tech skills program

October 13, 2022
Written By:
Sean Corp, Center for Academic Innovation
Vector illustration depicting information and security engineers at work. Image courtesy: Center for Academic Innovation

A new flexible online training program on data science will prepare job-seekers in Michigan and beyond to quickly enter one of the fastest-growing labor markets and advance their careers.

The University of Michigan’s Center for Academic Innovation created the program, “Data Analytics in the Public Sector with R,” for data science and other professionals interested in how public data sets can drive decisions and policymaking in the public sector. The course complements current Google career certificates, flexible online “Grow with Google” job-training programs for high-demand fields. 

As open-source data and machine learning increasingly become part of decision-making, the center partnered with faculty in the Ford School of Public Policy and the School of Information to build the online course series. It teaches how the powerful R programming language can manipulate, visualize and interpret open-source data to those with a foundational understanding of programming and statistics. 

There are more than 380,000 open data analytics jobs in the United States, with a median starting salary of $74,000.

“Data Analytics in the public sector with R” is designed for current and future public-sector professionals who want to harness the power of public data analysis using the R programming language to better inform policy and improve decision-making. 

The four-course series teaches the fundamentals of R programming, an understanding of open-source public and survey data, and data manipulation and visualization. It provides hands-on experience using R to work with real-world data sets. The training is best suited for professionals already familiar with R, including those who have already taken the Google career certificate in data analytics. 

“Job training and regularly learning new skills are keys to the future of work,” said James DeVaney, founding executive director of the Center for Academic Innovation. “This also provided us an opportunity to team with Google on a course aimed directly at high-impact, high-wage job skills that serve the public good and will help communities in Michigan and beyond as people are able to harness data to drive decision-making and solve important societal problems.”

Christopher Brooks
Christopher Brooks

Christopher Brooks, assistant professor of information, and Paula Lantz, professor of public policy, and health management and policy, will teach the course. 

“Professors Lantz and Brooks bring unique perspectives to the course,” DeVaney said. “They allow you to see the power of big data and acquire the skills you need to improve communities. Our schools work daily to prepare a new generation of leaders dedicated to the public good, and this course will bring that same commitment to a global audience.”

Paula Lantz
Paula Lantz

The Google career certificates do not require a degree or experience and can be completed within 3-6 months of part-time study. The U-M course series is ideal for early career professionals in the public sector looking to enhance data analysis skill, or current data analytics professionals looking to enter the public sector. Although there are no prerequisites, this specialization is best suited for those with programming experience, ideally with the R language and basic applied statistics knowledge.