Google and Steve Wozniak Announce Initiatives to Fill the Digital Skills Gap

Last week, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, announced a new initiative, Grow with Google, to fill skills and opportunity gaps in the U.S. In the blog post announcing the initiative, he wrote that less than half of 18- to 25-year-olds believe their formal education has prepared them for the workplace, and “one-third of jobs in 2020 will require skills that aren’t common today.”

Grow with Google is one way Google is trying to solve those problems. A new online hub will provide a platform for job seekers, educators, business owners and developers “to get significant training and professional certificates.” Google and Coursera have also partnered to develop a new IT support certificate program that they’ll launch in January, and Google will provide a new, free training program, the Google Developer Scholarship Challenge, through Udacity.

Meanwhile,, the company’s philanthropic arm, committed to donating $1 billion to organizations “working in three areas: closing the world’s education gap, helping people prepare for the changing nature of work, and ensuring that no one is excluded from opportunity.” Today, the organization announced a $10 million grant to Goodwill to launch the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator.

Google will also work with local partners to offer workshops, in-person training and coaching in cities including Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Lansing, Savannah, Columbia and Louisville. Workshop topics will include job search strategies, presentation skills, search engine optimization and basic coding skills.

Also last week, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak announced the creation of Woz U “to help fill the employment gap for high-paying technology jobs across the U.S.” The institute launched with online programs, and Wozniak plans to add campuses in more than 30 cities in the U.S. and around the world for in-person training.

“Our goal,” Wozniak said in the press release, “is to educate and train people in employable digital skills without putting them into years of debt.” Woz U has an app that helps match users with technical careers, and its educational programs will train computer support specialists and software developers. Data science, mobile application and cybersecurity programs are also in development.

These announcements are the latest in a series of major companies and tech leaders attempting to fill the digital skills gap. Last December, IBM announced a $1 billion investment in training and development for its U.S. employees. The company, and especially its CEO, Ginni Rometty, has been outspoken on the need for what they call “new collar” skills and alternate vocational training opportunities.

In 2016, Xavier Silion, general manager of Vodeclic, wrote in Training Industry Magazine that “sustainable organizational growth often depends on the successful implementation of engaging learning programs that improve that organization’s ability to address rapidly evolving business challenges.” Those business challenges require innovative training strategies and methods, including MOOCs, bootcamps, expanded apprenticeships and other programs. As Kevin Mills, head of corporate partnerships and business development at Coursera, says, “We see the [IT support] certificate as a way to provide a relevant and timely alternative to what many perceive as outdated IT training options.”

Technical training is no longer confined to tech, as Stuart Frye, Udacity’s vice president of economic opportunity, wrote yesterday: “In today’s world, skills such as web and mobile development are relevant to every industry – not just Silicon Valley.” With one-third of companies surveyed by Training Industry, Inc. rating themselves as ineffective at providing digital skills training, initiatives like Grow with Google are needed across industries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like