As U.S. military spouses struggle with high unemployment rates, frequent home relocations and a lack of viable opportunities, Google is expanding its military outreach efforts with the launch of training programs for remote workers.
Debuting on Friday, the online courses are accessible through Google’s “Applied Digital Skills” portal and “Primer,” an app which provides resources for small business owners and people looking for jobs. New programs aimed at military spouses include lessons on “finding and transitioning to remote work” and “keys to working remotely.”
Google is also partnering with Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families to provide 1,500 scholarships and other support services for military spouses. Recipients will receive IT support training and ultimately earn a Google IT Professional Support Certificate.
“Military spouses are the unsung heroes of our armed forces. With frequent moves and families to care for while their partners are deployed, military spouses face steep challenges when trying to land a meaningful job,” Google.org President Jacquelline Fuller said in a statement. “As the child of a military family myself, I know these challenges firsthand. We created these tools and resources to honor the many military spouses who have done so much to serve our country.”
About 16 percent of roughly 700,000 U.S. military spouses are unemployed, a rate that far exceeds a national average that has reached record lows in recent months, while 55 percent are underemployed. Women are particularly disadvantaged, with military spouses earning 40 percent than civilian peers, according to research by the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
Karen Pence, the wife of Vice President Mike Pence, is set to host a summit of business leaders this month at the White House to discuss potential solutions to the unemployment and underemployment trend. President Trump has also taken steps to address the situation, signing an executive order in May 2018 that sought to create more employment opportunities for military spouses at federal agencies.
“Meaningful employment remains a pressing concern for those who have shouldered the burden of our nation’s defense, to include military spouses,” said Dr. Mike Haynie, vice chancellor, Syracuse University and IVMF executive director and founder. "We are excited to partner with Google.org and grateful for its support of our efforts to empower our military spouses as they pursue meaningful careers.”
Blue Star Families, a nonprofit organization that supports military spouses, will also offer digital skills training workshops in partnership with Google. Last month, the tech leader added a function to its jobs search engine that identifies remote work opportunities.
Last August, Google provided a $2.5 million grant to the United Service Organizations to help provide IT training for military veterans.