‘ Grow with Google’ starts in Pitts­burgh, heads next to Indy

Chicago Sun-Times - - MONEY - Jes­sica Guynn @ jguynn USA TO­DAY

“The na­ture of work is fun­da­men­tally chang­ing. ... One- third of jobs in 2020 will re­quire skills that aren’t com­mon to­day. It’s a big prob­lem.” Sun­dar Pichai, Google CEO

Google will in­vest $ 1 bil­lion over the next five years in non- profit or­ga­ni­za­tions help­ing peo­ple ad­just to the chang­ing na­ture of work, the largest phil­an­thropic pledge to date from the In­ter­net giant.

The an­nounce­ment of the na­tional dig­i­tal skills ini­tia­tive, made by Google CEO Sun­dar Pichai in Pitts­burgh on Thurs­day, is a tacit ac­knowl­edg­ment that the com­pany bears some re­spon­si­bil­ity for rapid ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy that are elim­i­nat­ing jobs in the U. S. and around the world.

Pichai’s pit­stop in an old in­dus­trial hub that has reinvented it­self as a tech­nol­ogy and ro­bot­ics cen­ter is the first on a “Grow with Google Tour” that will crisscross the coun­try to pro­vide ca­reer ad­vice and train­ing. It heads next to In­di­anapo­lis in Novem­ber.

“The na­ture of work is fun­da­men­tally chang­ing. And that is shift­ing the link between ed­u­ca­tion, train­ing and op­por­tu­nity,” Pichai said in pre­pared re­marks at Google’s of­fices in Pitts­burgh. “One- third of jobs in 2020 will re­quire skills that aren’t com­mon to­day.”

Google will make grants in its three core ar­eas: ed­u­ca­tion, eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity and in­clu­sion. Al­ready, it has handed out $ 100 mil­lion of the $ 1 bil­lion to non- prof­its, Pichai said.

The largest sin­gle grant — $ 10 mil­lion, the largest Google’s ever made — is go­ing to Good­will, which is cre­at­ing the Good­will Dig­i­tal Ca­reer Ac­cel­er­a­tor. Over the next three years Good­will, a ma­jor player in work­force de­vel­op­ment, aims to pro­vide 1 mil­lion peo­ple with ac­cess to dig­i­tal skills and ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties. Pichai says 1,000 Google em­ploy­ees will be avail­able for ca­reer coach­ing.

In all, Google em­ploy­ees will do­nate 1 mil­lion vol­un­teer hours to as­sist or­ga­ni­za­tions such as Good­will try­ing to close the gap between the ed­u­ca­tion and skills of the Amer­i­can work­force, Pichai said.

The an­nounce­ments, which drew praise from state and lo­cal politi­cians in­clud­ing Penn­syl­va­nia Gov. Tom Wolf, come as Google scram­bles to re­spond to rev­e­la­tions that ac­counts linked to the Rus­sian govern­ment used its ad­ver­tis­ing sys­tem to in­ter­fere with the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Google is em­broiled in a grow­ing num­ber of other con­tro­ver­sies, from a La­bor Depart­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion and a law­suit by for­mer em­ploy­ees al­leg­ing sys­temic pay dis­crim­i­na­tion, to the pro­lif­er­a­tion of mis­in­for­ma­tion in search re­sults and ex­trem­ist con­tent on YouTube. As the con­tro­ver­sies have mul­ti­plied, so too have calls for Wash­ing­ton to reg­u­late Google be­cause of its mas­sive scale and global reach.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve seen mas­sive, mar­ket- cre­at­ing and la­bor mar­ket- dis­rupt­ing com­pa­nies try to ad­dress grow­ing pub­lic pres­sure and pos­si­ble reg­u­la­tory lim­its in this way. But it of­ten has been in­di­vid­ual cor­po­rate ti­tans who’ve got­ten into phi­lan­thropy — An­drew Carnegie, John D. Rock­e­feller — as a way to re­ha­bil­i­tate their own im­ages, tar­nished by anx­i­ety about the size of their com­pa­nies and treat­ment of work­ers,” said Mar­garet O’Mara, a his­tory pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton.

“What’s in­ter­est­ing here is what this sig­nals about Google’s fu­ture busi­ness am­bi­tions. It is bet­ting that its next era will be one not of search and apps but of de­vices and la­bor mar­ket in­ter­ven­tions.”

Google, O’Mara says, will have “un­de­ni­ably dis­rup­tive im­pacts on the jobs peo­ple do and the skills they need for them.”

On Thurs­day, Pichai de­tailed other pro­grams Google is un­der­tak­ing.

uGrow with Google is a free on­line pro­gram to help Amer­i­cans se­cure the skills they need to get a job or grow their busi­ness.

uIn Jan­uary, Google will launch an IT cer­tifi­cate pro­gram de­vel­oped with on­line ed­u­ca­tion provider Cours­era that in­cludes hands- on labs to pre­pare peo­ple for jobs in eight to 12 months.

uWork­ing with Udac­ity, Google is cre­at­ing the Google De­vel­oper Schol­ar­ship Chal­lenge. The top 10% of ap­pli­cants who en­roll in Google de­vel­oper cour­ses will re­ceive schol­ar­ships.

uGoogle will give away 20,000 vouchers to get G Suite cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

“We don’t have all the an­swers. The peo­ple clos­est to the prob­lem are usu­ally the peo­ple clos­est to the so­lu­tion,” Pichai said. “We want to help them reach it sooner.”


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