Google Invests in Skills Training Program for Low-Income Workers

Job Programs, Year Up and Merit America will receive grants to train students in technical skills with materials from information technology support, data analytics, project management, and Google career certification courses in user experience design. Both nonprofits already use the Google curriculum, which provides general technical training but does not teach students proficiency in Google software tools.

But a large part of successful training programs, experts agree, is what they do in addition to teaching technical skills. Programs also emphasize so-called soft skills such as teamwork, communication and a desire to learn new things. They often provide help with organized child care and transportation. They have a network of career coaches, social workers and counselors and foster peer groups and alumni.

“Skills and qualifications are important, but they build a person’s social capital,” said Gerald Chertavian, founder and chief executive of Year Up.

Launched more than two decades ago, YearUp is now a national organization providing low-income workers between the ages of 18 and 26. This includes three to six months of technical training followed by six months of internships at the company. The institute says eighty percent of its graduates are hired within four months, with an average starting salary of $ 44,000, more than double their previous income.

Social Finance, which runs the investment program, is considering adding a few more job training groups this year. An independent research firm, MDRC, will periodically evaluate the performance of training and job placement programs.

“We’re allocating more funds to whatever better results we’re delivering,” said Tracy Plandzian, chief executive of Social Finance, which is not affiliated with online lender SoFi. “It’s all about impact.”

It has grown rapidly since Merit America began offering courses in 2018. From the beginning, it was a hybrid program, consisting of self-pace online training, one-on-one weekly meetings with fellow students, and one-on-one sessions with coaches.

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