MDRC in the News

Google Creates $100 Million Fund for Skills Training Program

The New York Times


Google said on Thursday that it was creating a $100 million fund to sponsor an ambitious project to expand effective skills training and job placement programs for low-income Americans.

The Google-backed initiative is targeting a big problem: how to find, train and create paths to good jobs in the modern economy for the nearly two-thirds of American workers who do not have a four-year college degree…..

…..The tech giant is working with three nonprofit groups on the effort: Year Up, which focuses on upward mobility programs for the disadvantaged; Merit America, an organization that offers tech training programs for adults without a bachelor’s degree; and Social Finance, which designs student-friendly financing and repayment plans.

The training organizations are paid a portion of their costs upfront and receive additional payments only if their graduates land and keep higher-paying jobs. The program will combine Google philanthropy with loan repayments from students. The loans will carry no interest, and students will begin repaying only if they get a job that pays at least $40,000 a year. The payments will be about $100 a month and continue for a maximum of five years…..

…..The three organizations working with Google are indicative of newer trends in job training and hiring. They focus on results — graduates getting higher-paying jobs — rather than numbers of people passing through their programs. They are advocates for hiring based on demonstrated skills instead of screening by college degrees. And they are all experimenting with ways to make programs more self-sufficient financially and less dependent on charitable support.

“This is a really serious effort to put philanthropic money into programs that have the elements that have proved effective,” said Lawrence Katz, a labor economist at Harvard University.

The job programs, Year Up and Merit America, will receive grants to train students in technical skills with content from Google career certificate courses in information technology support, data analytics, project management and user experience design. Both nonprofits already use the Google coursework, which provides general technical training but does not teach students to master Google software tools…..

…..Social Finance, which is managing the investment program, is looking to add a few more job training groups this year. An independent research firm, MDRC, will evaluate the performance of the training and job placement programs over time…..

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