Google announced on Wednesday a new $50 million initiative to study and prepare “for the changing nature of work,” beginning with investments in the U.S. and Europe to help train job seekers and improve the working conditions for those already employed.
The commitment comes by way of Google.org, the search giant’s philanthropic organization. Its president, Jacquelline Fuller, unveiled the campaign in a blog post this morning, stressing the goal is to “make sure that as many people as possible can make the most of the new jobs, industries and opportunities that are emerging — some of which we couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago.”
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In other words, Google.org is studying the economic effects precipitated in no small part by its own parent company, Alphabet.
To start, some of the new money is heading to groups like Code for America, as Google.org looks to “support organizations who are driving innovative approaches to connecting job seekers and employers,” as Fuller described it.
The search giant’s initiative also has backed Social Finance, a U.S.-based nonprofit that will study the cost effectiveness and success of youth-training programs.
And Google.org said it has devoted another slice of its new $50 million fund to “improving job quality for low-wage workers.”
One of its grantees is the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which Fuller praised for its service, called Alia, that “pools money among domestic workers through a small monthly fee” — with the aim of helping those injured or otherwise facing financial difficulty take some time off. Google.org said some of the company’s volunteers would help the group “market and translate the service.”
Meanwhile, Google.org has pledged to put $2 million aside to fund research on the “future of work,” including “ways to better anticipate and understand what the world’s fast-changing workforce will need in the years to come and how technology can help produce positive outcomes,” the company said.
Absent from its announcement, however, is any mention of the exact tech transformations that are actually displacing workers and reshaping entire industries — advancements like automation or artificial intelligence, two areas in which Google is among a small set of hard-charging tech pioneers.
But Google.org did acknowledge the consequences of those evolutions — as “more than a third of jobs are likely to require skills that are uncommon in today’s workforce.”
“Workers are increasingly working independently,” the company’s philanthropic arm continued. “Demographic changes and shifts in labor participation in developed countries will mean future generations will find new ways to sustain economic growth.”
Fuller is set to discuss some of those issues in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, alongside Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who has pushed in recent years for federal legislation that would improve benefits like health insurance for workers in the gig economy.
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Google.org is launching a million effort to prepare job seekers for the ‘future of work’