The world may be advancing technologically, but its talent pool is not: Less than half of 18- to 25-year-olds believe their education gives them the skills they need to enter today's workforce, and one-third of jobs in 2020 will require skills that aren't common today.
To address this challenge, on Thursday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced three initiatives to improve tech education and better prepare the future workforce—including $1 billion in grants for nonprofits working to close the world's education gap.
"We're always asking how we can make sure the opportunities created by new technology are available for everyone, in any city, in any state," Pichai said in announcing the new initiatives in Pittsburgh, PA on Thursday. "In asking that, we recognize that there are large gaps in opportunity across the US. As we looked across all our programs, we saw three ways to greatly enhance opportunity for everyone."
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Google's three new initiatives include:
Grow with Google is a new initiative to help Americans attain the necessary skills to get a job or grow their business, for free. Job seekers, teachers, local business owners, and developers can now access training and professional certifications via google.com/grow. Learning options include Applied Digital Skills (the basics of working with tech, including spreadsheets and emails), a G Suite certification, an IT support professional certificate (available in January), and a Google Developer Scholarship Challenge (a training program in partnership with Udacity to offer 50,000 scholarship opportunities for people who want to become web and Android developers).
"All these programs are available wherever you have an Internet connection," Pichai said in his remarks. But to get an in-person experience as well, Google is also launching the Grow with Google tour, in which Google employees will team up with libraries and community organizations nationwide to provide career advice and training for individuals and businesses.
Google will provide $1 billion in grants over the next five years to nonprofits working in three key areas, Pichai said: Closing the world's education gap, helping people prepare for the changing nature of work, and ensuring that no one is excluded from new tech and work opportunities.
This will include $10 million to Goodwill, the nation's largest workforce development nonprofit, to launch the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator, which will offer 1.2 million people digital skills in career opportunities at every Goodwill in the nation. This funding represents the largest grant Google has given to a single organization so far, Pichai noted in his remarks.
Google employees will commit 1 million hours of their time over five years to help organizations working on these issues. This volunteering can take many different forms including setting up events, helping nonprofits work through technical issues, and mentoring students.
"Tech can seem intimidating," Pichai said in his remarks. "But we've found that having role models and people right in front of you can make the journey seem much easier ... At the end of the day, we make the most progress by working together."
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Alison DeNisco Rayome has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.