Tech & Work

Google invests $50M to help workers find jobs, improve training, boost job quality

Google's new philanthropic investment aims to prepare workers for the 'changing nature of work' and improve economic opportunities.

On Wednesday, Google announced a $50 million initiative to help people prepare for "the changing nature of work." This money from Google.org, the tech giant's philanthropic arm, will fund nonprofits focused on expanding economic opportunities as technology changes the modern workforce, according to a blog post from Google.org president Jacquelline Fuller.

"The way we work is changing, and we want to make sure that as many people as possible can make the most of the new jobs, industries and opportunities that are emerging—some of which we couldn't have imagined just a few years ago," Fuller wrote in the post.

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This new initiative will first roll out to grantees in the US and Europe, with plans to expand to other regions in the near future, Fuller wrote. The nonprofits selected will also be able to tap volunteers from Google for technical advice.

According to the post, the grants can help workers in three main ways:

1. Better connect job seekers with jobs

Google recently launched Google for Jobs, designed to help job seekers more easily find open positions in their field using machine learning. The new $50 million initiative will further this mission by supporting organizations that are also seeking new ways to connect employers and job seekers. For example, Code for America has created new technologies that help job seekers connect to government services for help finding employment. And Bayes Impact in France uses machine learning to offer customized recommendations and tips to job seekers to improve their search strategy.

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2. Ensure job training is effective and wide-reaching

Half of US managers said that "recent grads aren't prepared for full-time work," according to one study noted by Google.org. And only 8% of American high school graduates complete coursework designed to prepare them for college and a career. Even when students do gain skills needed for future employment, the rapidly changing economy and technology requires that they continually update their skill set to remain competitive. Though millions are spent each year on work skills and technical training programs, it remains unclear how successful these programs are. Part of Google's funding will go toward researching this subject, including with grantee Social Finance.

3. Improve job quality for low-wage workers

Low-wage and service jobs represent some of the highest projected occupation growth in the US over the next four years, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as in Europe and many other developed economies. These positions include personal care aides, home health aides, janitors, and housecleaners. However, workers in these jobs often face poor working conditions, economic insecurity, and a lack of labor protections, Google.org noted. One Google.org grantee, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, will use the funds to expand their service Alia. Alia pools money among domestic workers through a small monthly fee, which allows a worker who gets injured to survive financially while taking time off to get well again.

Google.org previously invested $50 million to help close the global education gap. It has also worked with organizations such as Oakland Digital in California, which teaches low-income students skills in graphic design and web development, and Czechitas in the Czech Republic, which provides digital skills and data science training for women in the area and connects them to employers.

"We hope that this funding and commitment from Google.org will contribute to a larger effort across companies, government, and civil society to help create a more inclusive economy for everyone," Fuller wrote in the post.

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Image: iStockphoto/shironosov

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

1. Google announced a $50 million initiative to fund nonprofits focused on "the changing nature of work" and expanding economic opportunities for all workers.

2. This initiative aims to better connect job seekers to employers, improve job training, and enhance job quality for low wage workers.

3. Google.org previously invested $50 million to help close the global education gap as well.

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About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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