Recently, Google made a pledge to invest $1 billion in nonprofit organizations in the coming five years with the goal of helping individuals adjust to fundamental changes in the nature of work due to the growth of the technology industry. This announcement came from the chief executive officer of Google, Sundar Pichai, who called it a national digital skills initiative.
Importantly, the pledge is a tacit acknowledgement by Google that it has played a big role in shaping the technologies that are changing local employment landscapes, eliminating jobs not just in the United States, but also in countries around the world.
The initiative kicked off on the Grow with Google Tour. The initial announcement took place in Pittsburgh, a formerly industrial city that has now become a national leader in technology, especially robotics. Other cities around the country that are considered “post-industrial” will be visited by Google as part of the tour.
To promote technology growth in these cities, Google is collaborating with libraries and local organizations to provide career training opportunities and events that offer advice to people who want to make themselves more marketable in the new economy.
Preparing for a Different Kind of Job Market
According to Pichai, by the year 2020, one in three jobs will require skills that are simply not very common in today’s market. The $1-billion commitment is meant to address this problem through three key aims.
First, the money will fund new educational opportunities. Second, grants will be awarded to initiatives that increase inclusion across the spectrum of workers. Third, economic opportunities, especially in post-industrial cities, will be expanded. Already, Google has allocated $100 million of its $1-billion promise.
The largest beneficiary of this philanthropy so far is Goodwill. A gift of $10 million will help establish the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator. This program aims to provide workforce development through direct training of over 1 million people in the coming three years.
This training will emphasize digital skills and help people identify the best career opportunities. Google has stated that 1,000 of its own employees will serve as career coaches through these centers. Employees at Google have agreed to donate a million volunteer hours collectively to Goodwill and other organizations working to train a new generation of employees.
Google’s investment in the future of the United States could be seen as a response to economic distress around the country. The technology community has grown rapidly in recent years, yet entire communities in the United States feel like they have been passed over.
These areas are experiencing economic decline despite the vibrant economies that exist in technology hubs. This situation stands to become worse with the coming introduction of technologies, such as self-driving cars and digital assistants ready to answer questions or create schedules, that could take away traditional jobs.
Initiatives to Increase Competitiveness in the Marketplace
By preparing people for careers in this increasing digitalized world, Google may be helping the country avoid a period of even greater wealth disparity. At the same time, while $1 billion sounds like a lot of money, the impact of this funding will only go so far in addressing such a monumental problem. However, Google is being strategic about its approach.
Pichai spent time in Pittsburgh and witnessed the city being transformed by Carnegie Mellon University into the technological leader that it is today. Using Pittsburgh as a blueprint, he hopes to create similar revolutions in other parts of the country that face similar challenges. Some of the strategic programs that Google has already outlined to accomplish this goal include:
- Coursera IT certification
In early 2018, Google will launch an online program for IT certification – in collaboration with the digital education company Coursera – that will include hands-on training. The program will take 8 to 12 months to complete, but then will put graduates in direct contact with potential employers.
To make the program accessible to everyone, Google plans to sponsor thousands of scholarships for those who would not otherwise be able to afford the program. In addition to this initiative, Google has announced that it will give away 20,000 vouchers that will permit individuals to pursue G-Suite certification to open new career pathways.
- Grow with Google
Designed for business owners, job seekers, and teachers, Grow with Google will provide education on a number of technological basics, such as email, spreadsheet creation, and work in the tech industry. Additionally, the program will include direct training and certification programs. Already, Google has provided the program to tens of thousands of middle and high schools in the country. In the near future, the program will be expanded to vocational programs and community colleges.
- Udacity scholarships
As another means of promoting education and making it accessible, Google has teamed with Udacity to create the Google Developer Scholarship Challenge. Through this program, the top 10 percent of applicants who choose to take a Google developer course will be awarded scholarships to help cover the cost of the coursework.