Facebook, Apple Expand Digital Training Initiatives in Europe

Facebook, Apple Expand Digital Training Initiatives in Europe

Apple announced late last week that it was bringing its “Everyone Can Code” program to 70 more colleges and universities throughout Europe, Sarah Perez reported at TechCrunch:

The program, which Apple designed to help students learn how to build apps, launched in May 2017 but was initially limited to the U.S. before expanding to other markets, including Australia, and select institutions in Europe last November. The expansion brings the full-year curriculum to institutions in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Luxembourg, Poland and Portugal. …

The course is designed to teach students how to build apps using Swift, Apple’s programming language for writing iOS and OS X apps, launched back in 2014 as the replacement for Objective-C. Since Swift’s arrival, Apple has been heavily pushing various “learn to code” educational initiatives, including an entry-level app for teaching kids to code, called Swift Playgrounds.

Facebook, too, is growing its digital skill-building initiatives in Europe, Reuters reported on Sunday, opening three “community skills hubs” in Spain, Poland and Italy and investing 10 million euros in France through its AI research facility:

The community hubs will offer training in digital skills, media literacy and online safety to groups with limited access to technology, including old people, the young and refugees. Facebook also committed to having trained one million people and business owners by 2020. …

Through its Community Boost EU program, Facebook will work with small businesses and start-ups to help them grow and hire. It said it would conduct in-person training for 100,000 small- and medium-sized businesses by 2020 and online training for 250,000 businesses.

These tech giants’ European community engagement programs are partly an effort to burnish their public relations on the continent as EU regulators put increasing pressure on them over suspected tax avoidance, privacy, and antitrust concerns. They are likely a long-term talent play as well, just like Google’s recently announced partnership with Coursera to offer its internal IT training curriculum to the public as a certificate program. In addition to generating goodwill and good press by helping address digital skills gaps and improve the employability of the entire workforce, these initiatives will create new pools of tech talent whose first choice of employer will often be the company that trained them.

In this way, these companies are strengthening their own long-term talent pipelines even as they train people who may end up working for their competitors. If Facebook actually manages to train one million people through its community hubs in the next two years but only a fraction of those trainees ultimately take jobs at Facebook, that’s still a big, direct payoff for a company where each high-performing employee can generate an enormous amount of value.