The advent of artificial intelligence and other previously unimaginable technologies has a lot of people worried about what work will look like in the future and whether the current workforce is prepared to survive the ongoing disruption of the economy. With that in mind, Google has announced a commitment to donate $1 billion in grants and 1 million hours of Googlers’ volunteer time over the next five years to nonprofit organizations dedicated to training US workers and building businesses for the future of work.
TechCrunch’s Brian Heater covers the announcement, which Google CEO Sundar Pichai made at an event in Pittsburgh — a place where the topics of economic disruption and technological displacement are very salient:
The location of the event will not be lost on anyone who has followed Pittsburgh’s growth over the last few decades. The Steel City has long served as an ideal example of an economy that’s rebounded from the brink of disaster. In Pittsburgh’s case, technology was a primary driver, thanks to Carnegie Mellon, which has helped transform it from post-Rust Belt depression to one of the country’s leading tech hubs. These days, the walls of Pittsburgh’s former factories house cutting-edge innovations in fields like robotics and autonomous driving. …
The company is committing $10 million to Goodwill as part of the initiative — the largest Google.org has committed to one organization. That money will be used to help launch the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator, aimed at preparing the American workforce for high-tech jobs. Grow with Google also will take the form of a national tour hosted by libraries and community organizations aimed at bringing training and career advice directly to local towns and cities.
According to the announcement, the initiative’s overarching goal is to “give anyone in America the tools and training they need to get a job, for free”:
The 2017 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey, published recently by Nonprofit HR, shows how the nonprofit sector is being affected by the tight market for talent in the US and the growth of social enterprise organizations as a competitor in that market. Overall, the survey finds, the nonprofit hiring market is robust, with half of the 420 US and Canadian nonprofits it surveyed saying they planned to add staff in 2017. That figure declined by seven percentage points from 2016, however, whereas corporate hiring expanded, which the report attributes “at least in part to the growth of social enterprise and purpose-driven business.” In other words, the candidates who would normally seek out jobs at nonprofits are being attracted instead to socially conscientious for-profit businesses.
As the millennial generation has grown up to become the largest segment of today’s workforce, this generation’s values and interests are significantly influencing the way employers engage candidates and employees. Millennials do have a particularly strong interest in making a difference in the world, with a recent survey finding that 75 percent of US workers between the ages of 18 and 34 expect their employer to take positions on social issues affecting the country. Yet even though millennials may be driving the trend of a purpose-driven workforce, these interests are not unique to them.
Despite facing increasingly stiff competition, most nonprofits are not taking steps to improve their recruiting, talent management, and culture practices, the Nonprofit HR survey shows. 64 percent of organizations said they had no formal recruitment strategy, while the number that said they did has been declining over the past two years. Additionally, 70 percent have no dedicated recruiting budget, 69 percent have not engaged in an employment branding process, 81 percent have no formal retention strategy, and 52 percent do not have a diversity and inclusion strategy.
Google.org, the tech giant’s philanthropic arm, is investing $50 million in a multinational project to better understand and prepare for the coming changes in the way we work, its president Jacquelline Fuller announced in a blog post last week:
This two-year commitment will fund nonprofits focused on this issue, with our first grantees in the U.S. and Europe; we have plans to expand to other regions soon. These organizations will also be able to draw on Googlers’ volunteer time for technical advice. Combined with our $50 million effort to help close the global education gap, Google.org has now committed $100 million to supporting education and economic opportunity—our largest giving initiative to date.
The initiative’s grants will focus on three key areas, Fuller explains: Better connecting job seekers with jobs, helping ensure training is effective and wide-reaching, and improving the quality of low-wage workers’ jobs. Regarding the first of these goals, Fuller takes the opportunity to plug Google for Jobs, the machine learning-enhanced job search function Google launched in June, and Google Hire, its applicant tracking system that launched for small US businesses last month.
In a separate blog post, Google.org adds that $2 million of this fund will be devoted to funding research “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.”
A new report from the Instant Group, a serviced workspace provider, documents the rapid expansion of the market for coworking spaces within the past year. Mark Eltringham at Workplace Insight explores the report’s findings:
[C]oworking grew more than 10 percent across the US over the last year and ‘combination centres’ which offer both executive suites and coworking spaces expanded by 12.9 percent as existing operators sought to take advantage of the growing demand for collaborative and agile workspace. The study claims that the occupation of flexible workspace by corporations has significantly expanded the US flexible office market over the past year, largely driven by the rise of the contingent workforce and changing workplace demands of Millennials. The total market grew by 4.3 percent and now includes 3,596 centres, the largest markets of its kind in the world with the UK following at 3,290 centres.
The study claims that “corporate demand for agile space solutions, which offer shorter deal terms and transparent, monthly pricing, are driving markets such as NYC and benefiting existing brands such as Regus and also catalyzing the rapid growth of the WeWork brand”.
In the US, the report adds, 50 percent of the flexible workplace market is concentrated in just five states, with California leading the pack: The Golden State boasts 103 work centers devoted solely to coworking. The most expensive markets for coworking spaces are New York City and Washington, DC, followed by San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Nonprofit organizations and social enterprises are major consumers of coworking space and are playing a significant role in the rise of this new type of work environment. Fast Company’s Sean Captain looks at how providers are catering specifically to this sector:
Teach for America revealed this week that it was cutting 15 percent of its national staff in what the nonprofit’s leadership described as a step toward building a leaner, more nimble organization and granting more independence to its regional offices. One of the roles TFA cut is its chief diversity officer, the Washington Post’s Emma Brown reports:
TFA created the role just over a year ago and the organization has a stated commitment to — and has had success with — increasing diversity among its corps members. [Teach for America CEO Elisa] Villanueva Beard said that a diversity officer’s work should be the work of every employee.
“The role that race, class and privilege plays in our work, this is not the responsibility of one central team,” she said in an interview Monday.
At the Atlantic, Emily Deruy scrutinizes that decision and what it might mean for the organization going forward: