This story is part of Grow PA, a reported series on economic development across 10 Pennsylvania counties supported by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. Sign up for our weekly curated email here.
Nonprofits seeking to make Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods better will now have a shot at a $50,000 grant from Google to further their projects.
Google.org Impact Challenge Pittsburgh is part of a larger initiative by the internet giant to help bridge the digital divide between workers and the skills they’ll need for the jobs of the near future.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai unveiled the Grow With Google initiative at the company’s Pittsburgh office last week. It amounts to a $1 billion investment over the next five years in nonprofit organizations and includes a $10 million grant to Goodwill Industries, which will allow the charitable organization to offer digital skills training at all of its locations as part of a new digital career accelerator.
“Grow with Google is there to give anyone in America the tools and training they need to get a job, for free,” Pichai said.
The plan includes job training that can lead to professional certificates, videos to teach small businesses critical expertise and basic coding training.
Grow With Google also includes scholarships for job training: Its Google Developer Scholarship will provide 50,000 developer scholarships for training through Udacity.
In January, Google will launch its IT Support Professional Certificate, an eight-to-12-month program with 2,600 scholarships available through nonprofit organizations across the country. Of those, 100 will go to Pittsburgh-based Partner4Work.
Helping workers and future worker navigate the digital divide is a challenge numerous organizations in Western Pennsylvania have tried to address in recent years. Much of the focus has been on retraining workers in heavy manufacturing or other fields that have downsized, or on industries that are becoming obsolete.
According to the Allegheny Conference on Community Development’s Inflection Point study, over the next decade, the Pittsburgh region will have 340,000 new jobs across numerous sectors. Workers in these jobs will need digital skills, even if they’re not in IT or robotics. The study estimated that if nothing changed, the region could be short some 80,000 workers, as Baby Boomers retire and jobs require more specialized skills.
But it’s not just older workers who need retraining and updated skills. Pichai pointed to a study from The Economist that found that only a third of executives surveyed were satisfied with the “level of attainment” of its new workers. More than half agreed that a gap in skills was “hampering” their organization’s performance. And fewer than 50 percent of workers aged 18 to 25 consider themselves prepared for the current workforce based on what they learned in school.
“That’s a significant gap that’s only going to become more urgent,” Pichai wrote in a blog post announcing the initiative. “One-third of jobs in 2020 will require skills that aren’t common today.”
The Goodwill career accelerator will be partly staffed by Google employee-volunteers, who will offer career coaching over the next three years.
“At Google, our mission is to make sure that information serves everyone, not just a few,” Pichai said. “A child in a school here in Pittsburgh can access the same information on Google as a professor at Carnegie Mellon. In the end, the Internet is a powerful equalizer, capable of propelling new ideas and people forward.”
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