In a quest to fill the gap in digital skills in the Arab world, Google has launched “Maharat min Google”, a free skills-building programme in Arabic, to help young people in the region to find jobs, advance their careers or grow their businesses.
Based on a blended learning model, “Maharat min Google” (“Skills from Google”) provides free courses, tools, and in-person digital skills training to students, educators, job-seekers and businesses.
The online platform — g.co/Maharat — features 100 lessons across 26 core topics in digital marketing, including 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.
“We’re delighted to be bringing ‘Maharat Min Google’ to the Middle East and North Africa — our contribution to the future of the workforce in MENA. This programme is free of charge, available in Arabic and accessible on any platform,” said Matt Brittin, Google’s president of business operations across Europe, Middle East and Africa.
“‘Maharat Min Google’ draws on our 20-year history of building products, platforms, and services that connect people and businesses, helping them grow and succeed online. We know how valuable digital tools are to MENA’s future and we at Google are proud to be an engine supporting their growth,” he added.
In a roundtable attended by Ahram Online, Brittin explained that "the Middle East's disparity of unemployment is very high and so we have some experience of working with partners" to try to help job-seekers.
According to 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, while 51 percent of young people consider unemployment their biggest concern and only 38 percent believe their education is giving them the skills they need to enter the workforce.
In the MENA region, there are 30 million women educated, connected and of working age, which represents the largest economic opportunity in the region today. More than 50 percent of university graduates are female, yet only 25 percent participate in the workforce.
The Google official referred to the achievements of a similar programme in Europe: "we now have nearly 200,000 Europeans who have already done a training."
Google has also signed an agreement with the Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation (MiSK), which will conduct in-person trainings for more than 100,000 students across Saudi Arabia.
“At the MiSK Foundation, we emphasise the importance of this initiative, as it is an extension to our commitment to develop the Saudi youth’s skills, focusing in particular on 21st century skills which will result in a ready-to-market generation as well as prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovator.
And since obtaining digital skills is the cornerstone to achieve this, the MiSK Foundation partnered on this initiative with Google and the other participating and sponsoring organizations," said Deema Al Yahya, adviser and CEO of MiSK Innovation.
At the same time, Google announced that Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, is granting $1 million to INJAZ Al-Arab, a regional non-profit organisation, which will roll out in-person trainings to 100,000 students across 14 countries in MENA focusing on youth in underprivileged and rural areas.
Both collaborations with INJAZ and MiSK will target 50-percent female participation. Google is looking for further local partnerships across the region with governments, universities, private-sector businesses and non-profits to expand the reach of its “Maharat min Google” programme.
Akef Aqrabawi, CEO of INJAZ Al-Arab, said: “We are very happy with Google’s support to offer digital literacy skills across the MENA region and to expand the reach of a programme like ‘Maharat min Google’. We share a common vision with Google and want to support the Arab youth, especially those in rural areas and underprivileged communities, in preparing them for future job opportunities and in empowering them to become successful entrepreneurs.”