Facebook Announce ‘Community Boost’ Digital Skills Training Program for the Unemployed

On November 9th Facebook proudly announced their latest PR stun humanitarian effort, dubbed ‘Community Boost’, which will travel to 30 US cities during 2018 in an effort to “work with local organizations to provide digital skills and training for people in need of work, to advise entrepreneurs how to get started and to help existing local businesses and non-profits get the most out of the internet.” The aforementioned US cities will reportedly include Houston, St. Louis; Albuquerque, Des Moines; and Greenville, South Carolina, among others.

In explaining the reasoning behind this initiative Facebook cited research conducted by Morning Consult in partnership with the US Chamber of Commerce Technology Engagement Center and Facebook themselves, which indicates that “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.”

Additionally as much as 80% of US SMEs reportedly stated that Facebook helps them to connect with people in their local community, and one-in-three assert that the platform has helped them to grow their business.

According to Facebook the ‘Community Boost’ program will provide assistance in the following areas:
  • If you’re looking for a job, we’ll provide training to help you improve your digital and social media skills.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur, we’ll have training programs on how to use technology to turn an idea into a business or show you ways to create a free online presence using Facebook.
  • If you’re a business owner we’re going to offer ways your business can expand its digital footprint and find new customers around the corner and around the globe.
  • If you’re getting online for the first time or you want to support your community, we’ll provide training on digital literacy and online safety. And we’ll also help community members use technology to bring people together, with features like Events and Groups.
The thing is, for all of Facebook’s talk about providing a comprehensive digital skills training program, there seems to be a heavy focus on their own platform rather than the digital landscape as a whole. This, as noted by Josh Constantine of TechCrunch in a summary I whole-heartedly agree with, makes the entire endeavour seem a little too self-serving to be interpreted as true altruism.

Despite this however the initiative has been welcomed by representatives of the included cities and states, with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner commenting, “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. I’m glad that Facebook recognized that one of the first five cities to benefit from this program should be Houston, the most diverse city in the nation, the largest economic engine of Texas and a proving ground not only for innovation in tech, energy, medicine and space exploration but also for mom-and-pop small businesses that reflect all the cultures of America and the globe.”

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry also praised the program, stating, “As the City of Albuquerque is the second most digital city in nation, we are excited and welcome Facebook to Albuquerque for its new community boost! 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.”

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