With first daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump by his side, Google CEO Sundar Pichai signed a pledge Thursday in Dallas that the company will boost its investment in tech skills training for American workers.
The Silicon Valley-based company said it will create 250,000 training opportunities over the next five years and invest $3.5 million to expand one of its certification programs to 100 community colleges by the end of next year.
Google is one of more than 350 companies to join the Pledge to America’s Workers, a White House initiative that’s enlisted the private sector to help close the gap between skills companies seek in employees and those that job candidates have. The companies have committed to train more than 14 million students and workers since Trump introduced the pledge in July 2018.
Trump and Pichai held the event at El Centro College in downtown Dallas. It’s one of 30 community colleges that already offer a Google-designed certification for information technology support. That program is the one Google will expand with the help of Boston-based nonprofit Jobs for the Future.
“Our goal is to make sure that the opportunities created by technology are truly available for everyone,” Pichai said.
Pichai also visited Dallas-based luxury linen company Peacock Alley for a tour and roundtable with local businesses that use Google to advertise, track trends and manage online sales.
The tightly choreographed events came as the Trump administration and Google seek to shape their perception in Texas. Ivanka Trump’s appearance is one of several in the state by President Donald Trump’s administration as he runs for re-election in 2020. The president was in Houston last month to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi. He will hold a campaign rally in Dallas on Oct. 17.
For Google, the announcement is part of an effort to woo the public and politicians of both parties who have grown skeptical of big tech. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is fending off an antitrust investigation led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Google has about 100 employees in its Addison office. It’s also building a $600 million data center in Midlothian, about 25 miles southwest of Dallas. It has an Austin office with more than 1,100 employees.
In Trump’s remarks, she championed job growth and low unemployment in the country — and especially in Texas — and she credited her father’s policies. She said people who have been marginalized or left out of the workforce are getting chances again.
“This booming economy has created an unusual problem where there aren’t enough people with skills to fill the job vacancies that exist,” she said. “There are more job vacancies than unemployed Americans, which creates tremendous opportunity for workers. And that’s why we see wages growing. And that’s why we see opportunities being created.”
There are about 7.2 million job openings in the U.S. at the end of July, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau Labor Statistics. About 6.1 million people were unemployed that month.
Google’s expanding program will certify workers for jobs in IT support. There are more than 215,000 unfilled jobs in IT support across the U.S., according to company estimates. Students can complete the web-based curriculum to qualify for those jobs in six months, depending on their pacing.
With the certificate, they can break into the tech industry without a college degree. The median annual wage for the entry-level tech job is about $53,500, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor.
Dallas County Community College is working with other major tech companies to train students, too. Amazon Web Services announced last week that it would offer a new degree in cloud computing at Texas community colleges, including those in Dallas.
Joe May, the district’s chancellor, praised Google for offering another path for students.
“Career-connected learning is the future of where community college needs to be,” he said. “This is one of the best examples I know of.”