The Community Boost EU program will provide skills and assistance to help European startups and SMBs to grow and expand. The tech giant is opening new community skills hubs in Spain, Poland, and Italy and investing €10 million in an artificial intelligence research centre in France, which will grant scholarships to up to 40 PhD fellows.
On the ground, the skills hubs will partner up with local organisations to offer digital skills training to underrepresented groups.
Facebook previously ran the Digitales Lernzentrum program in Berlin to educate refugees and other groups in coding and professional development. These new hubs will follow a similar model, according to the company.
“I’m thrilled to share that by 2020, we will have trained one million people and small business owners across Europe in digital skills,” said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. “These skills will help people thrive in today's workplace and help small businesses grow and create jobs.”
The social network will be teaming up with digital consultancy Freeformers to provide this training both in person and online. Furthermore, business owners will be offered digital training – in person and online – in order to reach more customers globally. According to research from Facebook, 35% of SMBs in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK said that they built their business on the social network.
Facebook’s #SheMeansBusiness program will provide digital skills training to more than 15,000 women in France. Following launches of the program in the UK and Italy, it will be expanding into Ireland, Spain, and Sweden this year.
“Technology can help change lives. That’s why we want to give people the support they need to start a business and get the job of their dreams,” added Sandberg.
Facebook has invested more than $1 billion in digital skills training globally.