Google announced yesterday a multi-pronged effort to help students and workers better prepare for a rapidly changing labor market.
The online-services giant launched “Grow with Google,” which aims to provide training and certificates related to a variety of technical and entrepreneurial skills.
The company’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, will make $1 billion in grants over the next five years to nonprofit organizations working in education, job training, and equal opportunity.
And Google employees will donate a million volunteer hours to supporting those efforts, CEO Sundar Pichai said Thursday in Pittsburgh.
“The nature of work is fundamentally changing. And that is shifting the link between education, training, and opportunity,” Pichai said, according to prepared remarks posted on Google’s blog. “It’s a big problem, and at Google, whenever we see a big problem, we ask how we can make it easier for everyone to solve it.”
Of course, Google has played a role in creating that problem as well; the company’s rapid growth and the technological advances it has helped spur in everything from online advertising to robotics to autonomous vehicles are a big part of the current wave of uncertainty over the future of work.
Last month, Education Week took a deep look at what such uncertainty means for schools, including the profound challenges the K-12 sector faces in preparing students to learn how to learn and in providing meaningful credentials and certificates in a world in which the skills needed in the workplace are rapidly changing.
Read the full Education Week special report on Schools and the Future of Work.
The new Grow with Google initiative aims to tackle the latter challenge. Like Microsoft before it, Google will now provide opportunities for users to become “certified” in using basic digital productivity tools, such as email and spreadsheets. In January, Pichai said, the company will also introduce a program that will allow people to earn an “IT Support Professional Certificate.” Developed in conjunction with online-learning platform Coursera, the program includes “hands-on labs to take learners to job readiness in eight to 12 months,” according to Pichai’s prepared remarks.
The new grant announcements are part of Google’s existing commitment to devote 1 percent of the company’s profits to nonprofit organizations. In recent months, the company has announced related gifts to 4-H, to expand computer-science programs offered by local agricultural clubs, and Goodwill, to create a “digital career accelerator” aimed at helping 1.2 million people in the U.S. “expand their digital skills and career opportunities,” according to the Google.org website.
In his prepared remarks, Pichai also talked about Google’s role in K-12 education, saying the company’s efforts to make its online-productivity suite widely available and provide tech-coaching to educators are part of its efforts to close “hard educational gaps.”
“We’ve already brought down the price of schoolroom tech through Google for Education and over 70 million teachers and students worldwide use our free education products,” Pichai said, and “the Dynamic Learning Project makes sure that teachers have the coaching they need to get the most out of whatever tech resources they have.”
Photo: Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai stands in front of a projected image as he announces a new initiative called “Grow with Google,” aimed at helping Americans get the skills they need to prepare for and find jobs, or grow their businesses, during a news conference at the Google offices in Pittsburgh on Oct. 12.--Keith Srakocic/AP
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.