Facebook to teach digital and social media skills to the unemployed in 30 cities
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of the social media giant Facebook, on Thursday announced a new outreach program called Facebook Community Boost, that aims to help small businesses, entrepreneurs and job seekers in the U.S. by teaching them digital and social media skills they need to compete in the new economy.
Announcing the decision on Facebook, Zuckerberg wrote in the post: “Today we’re announcing a new program called Facebook Community Boost to help small businesses in the US grow, and to help more people get the digital skills those businesses need. Since 2011, Facebook has invested more than $1 billion dollars to support small businesses. This is the next step.”
Facebook will be investing tens of millions of dollars into the program that will travel to 30 cities around the U.S. in 2018, including stops in Houston, St. Louis, Albuquerque, Des Moines and Greenville, South Carolina. Through the program, Facebook will be training people with new skills, providing entrepreneurs advice, and helping existing organizations without an online presence to master the Internet.
With regard helping businesses, Facebook said they have “trained more than 60,000 small businesses in the US and hundreds of thousands more around the world.”
“More than 1 million small businesses have already taken advantage of Facebook’s free online learning hub to learn how to use our marketing tools.”
Zuckerburg said, “One of the things I’m most proud of is that 70 million small businesses use Facebook to connect with customers. That’s 70 million people who now have access to the same tools the big guys have. Now we need to make it easier for people to start and build new businesses or find jobs and opportunities, and in the process strengthen their communities.”
According to a company blog post attributed to Facebook VP of small business Dan Levy, the program will target four different groups of people: established business owners, entrepreneurs, job seekers, and those who are interested in “digital literacy and online safety” training.
“We want to do more to support communities across America — particularly for those who are transitioning to careers that require more digital skills,” Levy wrote.
The free training on a range of digital skills include coding, building websites and obviously using Facebook for their business. Zuckerberg said he thinks these are some “specific things” Facebook can do to help boost the economy and small businesses, “both because it’s going to be good for our products and business and because it’s going to be good for this mission of building a community even beyond our own interests.” Facebook believes that these skills will help reduce unemployment that led to the dissatisfaction with current political systems.
Pointing out new research by Morning Consult in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Technology Engagement Center and Facebook, Facebook cites “62% percent of US small businesses using Facebook said having digital or social media skills is an important factor in their hiring decisions — even more important than where a candidate went to school.” Further, 46 percent of small and medium businesses say Facebook is an essential tool for running their business, the research found.
Greenville has been selected as one of the first five cities to participate in the program in 2018. Knox White, Mayor of Greenville in a statement, said, “We are excited that Greenville will be one of the first cities to host Facebook’s Community Boost event. I look forward to working with the Facebook team to help local residents developed stronger digital skills, train people how to safely use the Internet, and help local businesses and non-profits operate more successfully online.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says that “We’re happy to welcome Facebook to Houston to boost our residents’ digital skills and make sure our vibrant community of entrepreneurs and small businesses gets more out of the internet.”
Welcoming the Facebook help, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry said in a statement, “This initiative will help train our residents in developing key skills to help them thrive in our ever evolving digital world. We look forward to working closely with Facebook in coordinating the weeklong event to ensure Albuquerque and New Mexico small businesses are aware and can participate to the fullest extent. We hope this will help bring more tech skills and better job opportunities to our wonderful community.”