Google.org awards 2 million USD grant to set up training partnerships with trade unions in Finland and four other countries

Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, today announced that it’s awarding a 2 million USD grant to Nesta, the UK based innovation foundation, to set up partnerships with trade unions in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Belgium. The programme will provide training to workers whose jobs are changing fastest as a result of automation or digitalisation — for example, people working in administrative roles, manufacturing and the service industry.
20.09. 11:23
SAK, GOOGLE and NESTA
PM Antti Rinne and CEO Sundar Pichai in Helsinki in 20 September 2019. Photo: Laura Kotila / Prime Minister's Office. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Last spring Google and SAK – the largest labour confederation in Finland – published a joint study paper outlining proposals for action to build a society of continuous learning. Now, with the support of Google.org, Nesta will roll out a programme called FutureFit together with SAK that empowers workers with new skills that support them to adapt to changes in their workplace.

Työväen Sivistysliitto (Workers’ Educational Association of Finland) will be responsible for the practical work of organizing the nation-wide training program for the workers. The training will be carried out in 30–35 workplaces all over Finland in companies in the industrial, logistics and service sectors. Each training period will take place during two to four working days. Using innovative methods such as nano learning, gamification, and machine learning tools, the programme will generate robust evidence about what affects learning behavior and motivation.
 
While research from McKinsey Global Institute shows that automation can actually increase the total number of jobs in Europe, the recent study paper by Google and SAK says that about one-third of SAK's workers find current technology distressing. 
 
“Learning opportunities of this kind should be part of regular duties at all workplaces. Employees need new digital skills to embrace smart technology at work,” says Jarkko Eloranta, President of SAK. 
 
Eloranta also stresses the importance of digital skills in prolonging working careers and improving productivity. “Adequate digital skills improve employee commitment and job satisfaction. They are also increasingly important for future employability. Businesses will reap the rewards of enhancing digital skills through growing productivity.”
 
“Promoting solid digital skills for everyone is vital in today’s fast-changing society and at Google, we are committed to working with partners to do our part. Just two weeks ago, we were fortunate to be able to open our first Digital Skills Hub in Helsinki jointly with partners such as the City of Helsinki and Finnish Entrepreneurs, and now - with Nesta on board - we are pleased to be able to continue the great work we started with SAK last year,” says Antti Järvinen, Country Manager of Google Finland. 

“Nesta’s research into the future of work and skills shows that, if used well, technological innovation can improve societies and boost economies on a massive scale - but only if everyone is included. That means ensuring training is accessible to workers who need it most, and that working adults are motivated to adapt to changes and learn new skills. The current labour market is moving at such a rapid pace that many risk being left behind. Our ambitious new project with Google.org is an exciting opportunity for us to collaborate with an international group of experts, educators, technologists and unions, to understand what works in adult learning in order to improve the situation for many more," says Olivia Chapman, Senior Programme Manager, Future of Work, Nesta.