Google has launched a new six-week training programme for job-hunting graduates – that’s completely free of charge.

“Squared” is designed to bridge the perceived gap in digital skills among graduates to make them more useful and employable in the growing digital technology market, boosting their CV with a recognised qualification. The course teaches the digital, technological and leadership skills that Google knows the tech market is crying out for. Dan Cobley, UK managing director of Google, told advertising industry magazine Campaign:

“I’ve been at Google for almost seven years, and during that time I’ve met with a lot of senior leaders from creative and media agencies, and the one common theme always is, ‘I really can’t find enough good, digitally trained young people to hire into my agency’.

“Since that’s been a common theme we felt like that was something we could really contribute something significance towards.

“It’s not just about Google either — we had a panel in one of the pilots where we had Facebook, Twitter and Google all together talking about how social was a new force in marketing. It’s very important that this is seen as a foundation in digital marketing, not just in Google marketing.

“The UK is a real powerhouse internationally in terms of our digital economy, but it is something that’s only going to be maintained if we keep that skills flow moving and if we can make that a nationwide phenomenon rather than just a London-centric thing. That’s going to be good for everyone.”

Participants on the course will be trained by what Google promises will be top advertising industry practitioners – and the programme has secured dedicated premises over the next two years on London’s Tottenham Court Road. Already, 160 graduates from the UK advertising industry have enrolled to take Squared classes over the next year.

The launch represents a significant investment from the internet giant, in terms of man hours, premises and financial commitment. Beyond the two year lease on the London West End building, Google plans to launch an online version of the course in July, so that Squared training can be taken remotely.

Graduate Fog predicts that Squared will be immensely popular with graduates – and hopes that other large corporations are taking note of the positive publicity Google is attracting from this bold new initiative.

Some companies are pretending to help the youth jobs crisis by offering unpaid internships. Some are offering low-paid jobs as a crass competition “prize”. Others see the crisis as a simple money-spinner – offering paid-for training to graduates who have already spent tens of thousands of pounds on their degree and are struggling to make ends meet.

Graduate Fog thinks these are all cheap tricks – which do little to help graduates into real jobs with proper potential. With  youth unemployment climbing again, it is time big companies were reminded of their responsibility to train the future talent their industry needs. The companies who really want to a make a difference must put their hand in their pocket and dig deep to offer young people something that’s of real value, for free, to help them break into industries that have lots of jobs, pay their staff properly and have a real future. Now, that’s helpful.

Should more young big companies follow their lead and offer free training courses for graduates? Or do you think “Squared” is just a stunt to give Google some good publicity following the headlines about tax avoidance?

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