Facebook announces digital skills programme for SMEs

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Facebook has announced a program to help EU businesses grow and to equip more people in the EU with the digital skills they need to compete in today’s workplace.

The company has committing to open three new community skills hubs in Spain, Poland and Italy, and to have trained 1 million people and business owners across the EU by 2020.

Today the company also announced a 10-million Euro investment in innovation in France through their artificial intelligence research facility.

Through Community Boost EU, Facebook have said that they want to work side by side with small businesses and startups to help them grow and hire and they hope that the additional programs will help people gain the skills and resources they need to get jobs or put their own ideas into action.

The three new community hubs in Spain, Italy and Poland will run in partnership with local organizations, offering training in digital skills, media literacy and online safety to underrepresented groups. They follow the successful model of Facebook’s Digitales Lernzentrum in Berlin, which opened last year in partnership with the ReDI School of Digital Integration and other organizations. The school works with refugees, the elderly, and other community groups in Germany to offer courses from basic coding classes to professional development classes.

Over the next two years Facebook will partner with Freeformers to offer training to 300,000 people across the EU in UK, France, Germany, Poland, Italy and Spain. For 75,000 people, this training will be in person, and the rest will be online. All training will be tailored to each person, so someone with very strong skills could be taught how to code, while others might learn how to open a bank account online.

The company also says that it will offer business owners more types of training to help them expand their digital footprint and find new customers around the corner and around the globe. This includes in-person training for 100,000 SMBs by 2020 and online training for 250,000 businesses.

As part of Facebook’s flagship #SheMeansBusiness program, the company hopes to provide digital skills training to more than 15,000 women in France. The program encourages entrepreneurship through developing networks, mentoring, partner-led training programs and inspiring relatable role models. It is already active in the UK and Italy and will be rolled out in Ireland, Spain and Sweden in 2018.

The company is investing 10 million Euros to accelerating AI innovation in France by increasing Facebook AI Research Paris’ PhD fellows from 10 to 40, granting scholarships to students, and funding 10 servers as well as open datasets for French public institutions. In addition to this investment, the company will also double the team of researchers and engineers from 30 to 60.

Today’s announcements are part of Facebook’s ongoing investments in digital training. Since 2011, they have invested more than $1 billion to support small businesses around the world with the companies Boost Your Business program having trained hundreds of thousands of small businesses globally, and more than 1 million small businesses have used Facebook’s free online learning hub, Blueprint. More than 70 million small businesses use our free Pages tool to create an online presence.