McDonald’s announced plans last Wednesday to give $2 million to non-profit organizations working to build skills and improve employability among young people in Chicago, where the fast food giant is headquartered, the Chicago Tribune reported last week:
In Chicago, about $1 million for pre-employment training will be split among Phalanx Family Services, based in West Pullman neighborhood; After School Matters, situated in the Loop; Central States SER, a workforce development nonprofit in Little Village; and Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, which began as a career training program through World Business Chicago with support from Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Those nonprofits, vetted and selected by the International Youth Foundation, McDonald’s partner in the initiative, will teach soft skills like communication, problem solving and anger management.
An additional $1 million will go solely to Skills for Chicagoland’s Future to support a new two-year apprenticeship program at City Colleges of Chicago that will allow students to earn associate degrees in business for restaurant management jobs, the company said. That program is intended to build careers for young people, specifically at McDonald’s.
David Fairhurst, McDonald’s executive vice president and chief people officer, told the Tribune that the company was making this investment in an effort “to be a good neighbor.” McDonald’s moved its headquarters to central Chicago’s West Town neighborhood in 2016, trading its original suburban campus in Oak Brook, Illinois for the former site of Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios.
The initiative announced last week is not the first investment McDonald’s has made this year in workforce development: In March, it expanded its Archways to Opportunity employee education program, increasing the value of the benefit and making it available to employees after just 90 days on the job. The company has committed $150 million to the program over the coming five years.
The Indian IT services and business process outsourcing giant Infosys unveiled plans last week to establish a $245 million, 141-acre campus near Indianapolis, expected to create up to 3,000 jobs in the midwestern state within five years, the Indianapolis Star reported last Thursday. The first phase of the campus, to be built at the site of a demolished Indianapolis International Airport terminal, will entail constructing a 125,000 square-foot training center, including residences, on which Infosys plans to spend $35 million:
The training center is at the heart of Infosys’ larger target of hiring 10,000 people across the U.S., company President Ravi Kumar said. Infosys is working with partner colleges and universities, including Purdue University, to educate students and feed its training center and future workforce. Infosys plans to break ground on the training center this year and complete it by 2020.
“The 10,000 jobs was always with an idea of building talent pool from schools and colleges,” Kumar said. “It always had to be that way. We would never find that kind of talent in the market.”
Infosys, India’s second-largest IT company with over $10 billion in revenue and over 200,000 employees, announced its plan to hire 10,000 US workers last year in the wake of President Donald Trump’s pledges to crack down on outsourcing and the use of the H-1B skilled worker visa, of which Infosys has historically been a major beneficiary. While this looked to some observers like a hedge against the uncertain future of the H-1B and the outsourcing sector, Trump’s policy agenda was not the only motivation for the move, which Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka said at the time had been in the works for two years.
The commercial airline industry is currently facing a shortage of pilots unprecedented in recent decades. As Jon Evans observed at TechCrunch last week, the number of active pilots in the US has fallen from over 800,000 in 1980 to just 600,000 in 2017, a quarter of whom are student pilots who are unqualified to operate commercial flights. And as Evans discovered by taking up pilot training himself, part of the reason behind that shortage is that the training is “complicated, and difficult, and stressful”; many would-be pilots get frustrated and give up long before they make it to the big leagues.
Another barrier to entry, however, is expense. The reason so many commercial pilots have military backgrounds is that the military is about the only place pilots can log the thousands of hours of flight time they need to become certifiable commercial pilots without having to pay for it themselves. With the US airline industry expecting to face a shortage of 3,500 commercial pilots by 2020, Travel Weekly’s Robert Silk takes note of a new vocational training program American Airlines is launching in an effort to build a bigger pipeline to the cockpit:
The Cadet Academy will train participants for up to 18 months at American Airlines’ partner flight schools in Dallas, the Fort Lauderdale area, Memphis or Phoenix. Students will follow what American calls “a carefully choreographed flight-training track, where you will learn the skills to become a safe and competent aviator.”
Those who finish the program will have the opportunity to interview at [American’s wholly owned regional carriers] Envoy, Piedmont and PSA. Program applicants need not have experience in the cockpit. Participants will have the option of receiving financing from Discover Student Loans. The company said it would offer loans at competitive rates, either variable or fixed, that have no fees. Payments can be deferred for up to three-and-a-half years.
American’s new program is in keeping with a trend among employers facing current or prospective shortages of talent in their industries: Rather than wait for governments or educational institutions to produce more qualified candidates, they are taking matters into their own hands. The most notable companies pursuing these self-starting workforce development strategies are tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook, but other companies are also investing in vocational training on the blue-collar side of the labor market.
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:
Starting next semester, students at one California charter school will be going to class every day on the Redwood Shores campus of the enterprise software and cloud services company Oracle, the New York Times’ Natasha Singer reported on Sunday:
Oracle is putting the finishing touches on a $43 million building that will house Design Tech High School, an existing charter school with 550 students. The sleek new school building has a two-story workshop space, called the Design Realization Garage, where students can create product prototypes. It has nooks in the hallways to foster student collaboration. And when the school moves here in early January, Oracle employees will be available to mentor students in skills like business plan development and user-experience design.
Faced with a shortage of talent and a school system that has not been producing enough graduates with the necessary digital skills, Silicon Valley tech companies have been getting ever more involved in primary and secondary education in the US in recent years. Singer has covered that trend for the Times in several other articles this year, looking tech companies’ efforts to ensure that coding is taught in schools, their direct partnerships with middle and high schools to encourage innovation in tech education, and Google’s formidable expansion into education.
Yet Oracle is the first to actually play host to a charter school. Design Tech High School, known as d.tech, will pay Oracle just $1 a year in rent. The school will operate independently and be responsible for its own expenses, have its own school board, and Oracle will not participate in curriculum or hiring decisions. Oracle’s education foundation will offer two-week courses taught by Oracle employees, as well as unpaid internships for d.tech students, but any marketable product ideas the students develop in these classes will be their intellectual property, not Oracle’s. The company will even accommodate the school’s basketball team at its on-campus fitness center.