Dubai: Google has launched an Arabic online learning platform — Maharat min Google — in an effort to help people in the Middle East and North Africa to find jobs, advance their careers or grow their businesses by offering a free basic digital skills-building programme.
The US company has teamed up with Injaz Al Arab, a regional non-profit organisation, and Saudi Arabia’s MiSK Foundation (Mohammad Bin Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Foundation) to train 200,000 people from the region, with a target of 50 per cent female participation.
“We are a well-connected people in the UAE but in the region only half the people today are connected to the internet. 200 million still to be connected for the first time,” said Matt Brittin, Google’s president of business operations across Europe, Middle East and Africa.
He said that there could be a million jobs that are unfilled due to lack of “digital skills” by 2020 and by 2025, three million jobs are at risk if people don’t have the right skills.
In a recent study by the World Economic Forum, one in five jobs in the Arab world will require digital skills that aren’t widely available today. 51 per cent of youth considers unemployment their biggest concern and only 38 per cent believe their education gives them the skills they need to enter the workforce.
“There is a real risk of not seizing the opportunity here. The platform is free for everybody and designed for everyone to go online and to learn how digital can be more productive for students, teachers, entrepreneurs, businesses and job seekers,” Brittin said.
The online platform — g.co/Maharat — has 100 lessons across 26 core topics in digital marketing that include search engine marketing, social media, video, e-commerce, geo-targeting, and data analytics, among others. Google will provide a certificate upon completion of the full course, which takes about nine hours to complete.
Brittin said that Google.org to award $1 million (Dh3.67 million) grant to Injaz Al Arab to offer in-person training to students in rural areas and underprivileged communities and has signed an agreement with MiSK Foundation to roll out in-person training to students across Saudi Arabia in one year.
Akef Aqrabawi, CEO of Injaz Al Arab, said that it will roll out in-person training to 100,000 students across 14 countries in the region for 18 years focusing on youth in underprivileged and rural areas.
Tarek Abdalla, regional head of marketing at Google Middle East and North Africa, said that one in three Arabs are millennials and 60 per cent of the people are under the age of 25. The region is undergoing a digital transformation and brings opportunities for growth.
“In Mena, there are 30 million women educated, connected and of working age, which represents the largest economic opportunity in the region today. More than 50 per cent of university graduates are females, yet only 25 per cent participates in the workforce,” he said.