Google Canada has committed $2 million CAD to four nonprofits, NPower Canada, Pathways to Education, the Toronto Public Library, and the YMCA to help young workers in underserved communities re-skill for jobs in tech.
Youth and underserved communities have been hit hard by the pandemic. In response, Google’s investment aims to help retrain members of these groups for careers in tech and the digital economy “in under six months.” Since Google’s courses are virtual, its programs will be available across Canada.
“To help job seekers that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, we need to invest in skills training in jobs with demonstrable demand.”
-Sabrina Geremia, VP of Google Canada
The investment includes a three-year Google.org grant to NPower Canada to deliver 5,000 needs-based Google Career Certificate scholarships to underserved communities, as well as funding to Pathways to Education, the Toronto Public Library, and the YMCA. According to Google, NPower will provide these scholarships in collaboration with the other three organizations.
“To help job seekers that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, we need to invest in skills training in jobs with demonstrable demand,” said Sabrina Geremia, VP and country head of Google Canada.
According to Geremia, Google Career certificates “build an onramp to great jobs with no degree or experience required, which helps break down barriers and create opportunities for underserved groups trying to enter the tech workforce.”
Google’s certificate programs prepare workers for high-demand careers in growing tech sectors in roles that require no degree or relevant experience. Google offers certificate programs in Data Analytics, Project Management, UX Design and IT Support. Outside of NPower, these programs are available through Coursera.
To further support these initiatives, Google Canada plans to provide these nonprofits with additional funds to improve existing job training programs and increase access to digital skills training for Canadians from underserved communities.
As part of this move, Google plans to introduce a consortium that will consider program graduates for eligible jobs. Google is currently accepting applications from potential employers to join this consortium. So far, the group includes Google, KPMG, Telus, and Loblaw.
The investment follows the early success of Google’s IT Support Certificate program, which NPower Canada began offering last fall. Andrew Reddin, NPower Canada’s chief development officer, said that 83 percent of youth who graduated from the program in September 2020 “are employed or in a new education post completion of the program.”
Reddin said programs like this fill a demand in the Canadian market. “This support from Google provides more opportunities for young adults to start their careers and participate in Canada’s digital economy,” he said.
A May 2020 paper authored by a group of professors from Carleton University found that, from a labour market perspective, COVID-19 had the largest short-term effects on young, unmarried, less-educated workers.
One of its co-authors, Louis-Philippe Beland, economist and assistant professor at Carleton, told Talent Canada this is because many young workers have lower job security than their older counterparts and were working in roles where they were unable to work from home.
Recent data from Statistics Canada indicates that unemployment rates among visible minorities (9.4 percent) and youth aged 15 to 24 (14 percent) remain some of the highest of any group during COVID-19.
In Canada’s latest budget, the federal government included upskilling to fuel the pandemic recovery as one of its key priorities. The Government of Canada plans to launch the Canada Digital Adoption Program, which aims to create 28,000 jobs for young people and help up to 160,000 small to medium-sized businesses adopt digital technologies.
Budget 2021 also proposed $250 million over three years for an initiative that would scale up approaches to upskill and redeploy workers to meet the needs of certain industries.
Google Canada has offices in Waterloo, Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa with over 2,000 Canadian Google employees working on teams across engineering, AI research, sales, and marketing. The company recently announced a new partnership with Lightspeed and unveiled plans to build a $735 million CAD data centre in Québec.