The way we work is changing. As new technologies continue to unfold in the workplace, more than a third of jobs are likely to require skills that are uncommon in today’s workforce. Workers are increasingly working independently. Demographic changes and shifts in labor participation in developed countries will mean future generations will find new ways to sustain economic growth. These changes create opportunities to think about how work can continue to be a source of not just income, but purpose and meaning for individuals and communities.
Technology can help seize these opportunities. We recently launched Google for Jobs, which is designed to help better connect people to jobs, and today we’re announcing Google.org’s $50 million commitment to help people prepare for the changing nature of work. We’ll support nonprofits who are taking innovative approaches to tackling this challenge in three ways: (1) training people with the skills they need, (2) connecting job-seekers with positions that match their skills and talents, and (3) supporting workers in low-wage employment. We’ll start by focusing on the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia, and hope to expand to other countries over time.
Many research organizations, nonprofits, and businesses have already started exploring the ways work will continue to change over time, whether through the rise of the gig economy, new technological advances, or demographic changes. We’ll be directing $2 million to fund research on the future of work – finding 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. Over the next two years, we’ll share our learnings from research and collaboration with a growing network of experts from Google, Alphabet, and beyond.
Empowering people to develop skills for the future
In one U.S.-based study, half of the managers surveyed said that “recent grads aren’t prepared for full-time work.” Only 8% of American high school graduates complete coursework specifically designed to prepare them for college and a future career. And the students who do prepare for employment face a paradox: a rapidly changing economy that demands they continuously refresh their skill set simply to keep up, without much guidance on what skills will be required to actually do that.
Over the past two years, states across the U.S. have dedicated more than $500 million to support career and technical education programs to address this problem. States and communities are keenly interested in measuring the results of these programs and directing funds to those programs that have evidence of their impact.
Google.org grantee Social Finance is working alongside government agencies, nonprofits, and employers to make that possible. Google.org's contribution to Social Finance will help support the development of projects dedicated to programs that prepare underserved young people for the workforce. The first phase of this work will be to identify high-quality career and technical education programs that have the potential to improve outcomes for youth in their community. Social Finance will work with select programs to raise capital and structure innovative financing approaches, like Pay-for-Success contracts, that help to limit risk and direct resources to projects that have the best results. Google volunteers will support these efforts, through projects like helping structure and analyze data about the effectiveness of these programs.
Assisting job seekers in their jobs search
Job seekers often face challenges in searching for employment, like understanding where specific skills are in demand, and meeting the qualifications of the jobs they want. Machine learning applied to job platforms can help provide real-time, localized information about employment and personalized job recommendations – but this is only effective if job seekers can take action upon these insights.
Google.org grantee Bayes Impact, a nonprofit organization in France, launched the site Bob Emploi to address both of these problems with technology. The platform uses anonymized, public employment data from the French government, to deliver custom recommendations and tips to job seekers so they can improve their job search strategy and land the job they want.
In addition to providing funding to help improve and scale Bob Emploi, we’re scoping out opportunities for a volunteer team of Google data engineers to help the Bayes Impact team develop a new “skills recommendation” feature within the platform. After companies have provided information on the skills they seek in potential employees, the Bayes Impact team can then build algorithms that offer guidance to job seekers, recommending the skills needed for specific industries or positions.
The idea is for the Google volunteers to support the Bob Emploi team as they create the product roadmap for the platform, help plan for the next three to five years of development, and set a long-term vision to assist scaling and improvements to the idea. With help from Google.org, Bayes Impact anticipates it will be able to help at least half a million disconnected young job seekers in France.
Improving job quality for low-wage workers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some of the highest occupation growth in the United States over the next four years will come from low-wage and service jobs such as personal care aides, home health aides, janitors, and housecleaners. While it is good news that the care industry is growing, it’s also crucial to ensure that these jobs enable a decent living for workers.
Workers in these service positions often face poor working conditions and economic insecurity. In particular, domestic workers – whose work makes many other types of work possible for their employers – are some of the most vulnerable members of the U.S. workforce and lack many labor protections that other workers take for granted.
The National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) is using technology to make work--and life-- better for domestic and care workers through its innovation hub Fair Care Labs. Its flagship product, Alia, helps domestic workers access benefits that many U.S. workers receive by law, such as sick leave and basic insurance protection.
Alia collects small, regular contributions from a pool of clients to create a funding stream that makes essential benefits affordable and available to independent workers. For example, a housecleaner in Brooklyn, New York, was injured on the job, and she needed to take time off in order to recuperate. With Alia, her benefits account provided funds for two paid days off, giving her the time she needed to recover and return to work.
Google.org is providing funding to scale up existing tools like Alia as well as to develop new ones. We’re also providing expertise from Google volunteers in areas like product marketing, user-centered design, and machine translation in order to make Alia accessible to the workers who need it most, many of whom speak languages other than English.
Advancing Towards a More Inclusive Economy
This is only the beginning, and we look forward to supporting more projects over the course of the next two years. As we move forward, we’re excited to learn from organizations that are positively shaping the future of work. With Google’s philanthropy, products, and people, we hope to not only propel the work of these organizations forward, but also to explore ways to create a world where work is fair, satisfying, and offers a pathway to prosperity for everyone.
We welcome you to join us on the progress of Google.org’s work initiative. Stay updated on our latest news by subscribing to our email list.