Google to invest €25m in the EU to develop AI skills

12 Feb 2024

Image: © NPershaj/Stock.adobe.com

Matt Brittin, EMEA president at Google, said the funding follows a similar initiative that has helped people in Europe digitally upskill.

Google will spend €25m to help people residing in the EU to develop AI skills as the technology becomes increasingly pervasive.

In an announcement today (12 February), Google EMEA president Matt Brittin said that the company is launching the AI Opportunity Initiative for Europe to “support people and countries to be successful in seizing the opportunity of AI” – with a particular focus on “vulnerable and underserved” communities.

“Europe can lead the way in harnessing AI to create a strong and equitable economy – with more productive industries, more meaningful work and many new kinds of jobs,” Brittin wrote. “We want to play our part in empowering Europe’s workforce, supporting people through change, so that everyone can benefit.”

The funding is sourced from Google.org, the charitable arm of the Alphabet-owned company, which previously invested in the EU nearly a decade ago to help address the digital skills gap.

According to Brittin, Google has trained and upskilled more than 12m people on the continent since the initiative’s launce in 2015, through partnerships with governments, small business associations and NGOs.

“Our new AI Opportunity Initiative for Europe is built on that experience. Working in partnership with governments and local communities, we’ll provide a range of foundational and advanced AI training to support vulnerable communities, start-ups and everyone,” Brittin said.

As part of the investment, Google will start with a €10m fund to equip workers with the skills they need to “avoid being left behind”. Working in partnership with the Centre for Public Impact, it will soon open applications from social enterprises and nonprofits to help the company reach this cohort.

“AI has enormous potential to transform the world for the better. Yet, research shows that the benefits of AI could exacerbate existing inequalities – especially in terms of economic security and employment,” said Adrian Brown, executive director of the Centre for Public Impact.

“This new program will help people across Europe develop their knowledge, skills and confidence around AI, ensuring that no one is left behind.”

Supporting AI start-ups

Google also announced a new series of Start-up Growth Academies in the EMEA region to support start-ups across the health, education and cybersecurity sectors. The health wing of the initiative is now open for applications.

Brittin said that Google is also expanding its AI foundational courses to 18 languages, in line with the linguistic diversity of the EU.

“The courses are free of charge and available to everyone, offering a series of modules on introductory AI skills to help people and businesses get practical skills and knowledge,” he said.

Last September, Google said it planned to invest €1.5m in a scholarship scheme in Ireland for underrepresented communities in tech, with a focus on AI for undergraduates.

Find out how emerging tech trends are transforming tomorrow with our new podcast, Future Human: The Series. Listen now on Spotify, on Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com