Google has pledged to teach "crucial" digital skills over the next two years to one million Europeans, many of whom will be entrepreneurs.
“We’re announcing that Google will train one million Europeans to learn crucial digital skills by 2016," wrote the company’s new European leader, Matt Brittin, in a blog post. "We will invest an additional €25 million (£18 million) to broaden our current programs and take them to new markets across Europe to train more small businesses on the digital skills they so need.
“We’ll build a Europe-wide training hub to support businesses anywhere in Europe to get training online,” he added.
The Silicon Valley tech giant claimed that, with the right digital skills, every business today can go multinational and sell globally.
Over the last year, Brittin said Google has helped tens helped tens of thousands of German entrepreneurs export through partnerships with DHL, PayPal and Commerzbank. He added that the company has also trained tens of thousands of young, unemployed people in Spain with free courses on subjects like web development, digital marketing, and ecommerce.
Google's announcement coincides with a report out today from hardware supplier Crucial.com warning that Brits risk being left behind due to a lack of technology knowledge and skills.
“Not everyone can be a Mark Zuckerberg or a Steve Jobs. However, basic ICT skills can really help in life - not only with finding a job, but also with making home life easier,” said Roddy McLean, a computer upgrade expert from Crucial.com. “One common problem that people suffer from today is a slow running computer, and knowing how to fix this problem can save time and money.”
The insights released by Crucial.com reveal that over 13 million people in the UK cannot change a printer cartridge and over 20 million people cannot replace a laptop battery. Almost half of Brits (47 percent) said they are unable to remove harmful viruses from computers.
Brittin used the blog post to remind entrepreneurs what Google can do for their businesses, pointing to services such as Google AdWords, YouTube and Google Play.
But the businessman, who is officially the president of Google’s EMEA business and operations, also warned that European businesses will only reach their full potential if certain online barriers are removed.
“We need a single market in the digital world that reflects the single market we enjoy in the physical world already,” he wrote. “With over two dozen regulatory and frameworks to contend with, businesses stumble when they seek to sell, grow or hire across borders. The European Commission has rightly identified the digital single market as one of Europe’s top priorities.
“Of course, the opportunities afforded by the digital economy are still limited if people don’t have the right skills.”
At current rates, the EU predicts a shortfall of 900,000 jobs by 2020 due to a lack of digital skills, and there are many businesses that want to get online but don’t know where to start.