Google is preparing formerly incarcerated people to re-enter the workforce with its latest initiative.
In the spirit of Second Chance Month, the tech giant has launched its Grow with Google Career Readiness for Reentry program, which aims to provide free digital skills and job readiness training to 10,000 individuals who have previously been imprisoned.
According to a press release reviewed by AfroTech, the new program was created in partnership with five nonprofit organizations that have all successfully developed and delivered premium job training to returning citizens — including The Last Mile, Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), Defy Ventures, Fortune Society and The Ladies of Hope Ministries.
Fundamental digital skills that the training program will focus on include how to apply for jobs online, creating a resume, entrepreneurship and business budgeting.
The program will also be based on the following five core learning paths:
- Getting Started with the Basics
- Job Search
- Job Readiness,
- Online Safety
- “Next Step” Job Readiness Skills
According to Google, partners of the new program will also have a chance to integrate this planned out curriculum into their existing job readiness programs and provide job placement support to get people into paid apprenticeships and entrepreneur-in-residence programs.
Every year in America, 600,000 people exit the prison system and encounter various barriers that prevent them from having a smooth transition back into the workforce, Google shares. The unemployment rate for returning citizens is already five times the national average, but for those who are Black, the rate is even higher due to consequences of systemic racism.
The digital divide due to a lack of access to technology is another obstacle for these individuals who have yet to adjust to the world’s very tech-focused landscape, further complicating the employment process.
“Lack of access to digital skills training and job coaching puts formerly incarcerated individuals at a severe disadvantage when trying to reenter the workforce and increase their economic potential,” Malika Saada Saar — Global Head of Human Rights at YouTube — said in a statement. “We are thrilled to work alongside program partners who have demonstrated true expertise and leadership in supporting successful reentry through digital skills training to men and women, mothers and fathers, impacted by incarceration.”
According to Christopher Watler — Chief External Affairs Officer of CEO — “digital skills are essential for career success and economic mobility.”
“In a recent survey of CEO participants, 56 percent indicated a desire to learn digital skills. People leaving incarceration need immediate access to employment to support themselves and their families,” he adds. “Most can’t afford to miss work to attend educational or training classes. Grow with Google provides a flexible and free digital skills learning platform that helps CEO to meet the digital skills learning needs of our participants.”
Google notes the program is a part of its larger racial equity commitment and ongoing investments in criminal justice reform, including a $40 million donation to criminal justice reform nonprofits as well as $60 million to expand access to hands-on computer science learning.