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@Google and online learning giant @Coursera on Tuesday unveiled a new certificate program to train Americans, including those without college degrees, for entry-level IT jobs. The program, which consists of six courses that can be part-time completed in eight to 12 months, also connects participants with large employers like @Bank of America and @Wal-Mart who are looking for workers proficient in basic IT skills. The online learning initiative—known as the Google IT Support Professional Certificate—costs $49 per month through Coursera but, for a limited period, Google (GOOGL, +0.75%) says it will pay those costs for 10,000 participants. The IT initiative is one part of a larger $1 billion effort by Google, focused on skills and education, to help workers find their footing in a U.S. economy disrupted by technology. The move also comes at a time when Google and other tech giants are trying to deflect mounting criticism about their effect on society and the workforce.

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