By Ciaran Quilty, VP, Small Businesses, EMEA, Facebook
We’re announcing a program to help EU businesses grow and to equip more people in the EU with the digital skills they need to compete in today’s workplace.
We’re committing to open three new community skills hubs in Spain, Poland and Italy, and to have trained 1 million people and business owners across the EU by 2020. Today we’re also announcing a 10-million Euro investment in innovation in France through our artificial intelligence research facility.
Small businesses are the heart of our economies and create the majority of new jobs all around the world. Through Community Boost EU, Facebook will work side by side with small businesses and startups to help them grow and hire. We’re building additional programs to help people with the skills and resources they need to get jobs or put their own ideas into action.
Our three new community hubs in Spain, Italy and Poland will run in partnership with local organizations, offering training in digital skills, media literacy and online safety to underrepresented groups. They follow the successful model of Facebook’s Digitales Lernzentrum in Berlin, which opened last year in partnership with the ReDI School of Digital Integration and other organizations. The school works with refugees, the elderly, and other community groups in Germany to offer courses from basic coding classes to professional development classes.
Over the next two years Facebook will partner with Freeformers to offer training to 300,000 people across the EU in UK, France, Germany, Poland, Italy and Spain. For 75,000 people, this training will be in person, and the rest will be online. All training will be tailored to each person, so someone with very strong skills could be taught how to code, while others might learn how to open a bank account online.
We’ll offer business owners more types of training to help them expand their digital footprint and find new customers around the corner and around the globe. This includes in-person training for 100,000 SMBs by 2020 and online training for 250,000 businesses.
As part of Facebook’s flagship #SheMeansBusiness program, we will provide digital skills training to more than 15,000 women in France. The program encourages entrepreneurship through developing networks, mentoring, partner-led training programs and inspiring relatable role models. It is already active in the UK and Italy and will be rolled out in Ireland, Spain and Sweden in 2018.
We’re investing 10 million Euros to accelerating AI innovation in France by increasing Facebook AI Research Paris’ PhD fellows from 10 to 40, granting scholarships to students, and funding 10 servers as well as open datasets for French public institutions. In addition to this investment, we will also double our team of researchers and engineers from 30 to 60.
Today’s announcements are part of our ongoing investments in digital training. Since 2011, we’ve invested more than $1 billion to support small businesses around the world. Our Boost Your Business program has trained hundreds of thousands of small businesses globally, and more than 1 million small businesses have used Facebook’s free online learning hub, Blueprint. More than 70 million small businesses use our free Pages tool to create an online presence.
According to new research by Morning Consult in partnership with the Lisbon Council and Facebook, small businesses’ use of digital tools translates into new jobs and opportunities for communities across the EU.
35% of the small and medium businesses on Facebook surveyed in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK say they built their business on Facebook.
49% say they’ve hired more employees due to growth since joining Facebook.
57% of businesses surveyed say they have increased sales because of the platform; and 60% say that the platform helps them sell products in other cities and countries.
67% of SMBs said that digital and social media skills were more important than where a job applicant when to school.
We’re committed to investing in small businesses and their communities, and will share what we learn along the way. You can stay updated of our training programs for businesses and share your feedback.