Facebook reaches out to Europe with digital training hubs

Facebook has announced plans to open three new centres in Europe that will help train people in digital skills, with the company promising that it will train 1m people over the next two years as part of its drive to appeal to European authorities.

The social media giant has faced increasing regulatory pressure in Europe on a variety of fronts, from privacy to antitrust violations, and a number of EU states are currently discussing proposals that would raise the taxes of tech multinationals that have exploited loopholes by routing EU profits through low-tax countries like Ireland and Luxembourg.

The firm has revealed it plans to open three community skills hubs in Spain, Poland and Italy, as well as investing €10m (£8.8m) in an existing artificial intelligence research facility in France. The company will use its Community Boost EU program to work closely with small business owners, providing in-person training for 100,000 SMBs and online training for a further 250,000.

The hubs will also work in partnership with local agencies, offering training in digital skills, media literacy and online safety to underrepresented groups. They will follow the model of Facebooks Digitales Lernzentrum in Berlin, which opened last year in partnership with the ReDI School of Digital Integration and a number of other organisations. The school works with refugees, the elderly and other community groups, offering courses on everything from basic coding to professional development.

Facebook also announced a number of related initiatives, including a partnership with Freeformers that will offer training to 300,000 people across the UK, France, Germany, Poland, Italy and Spain, and an expansion of the #SheMeansBusiness program to provide digital skills training to over 15,000 women in France.

“Small businesses are the heart of our economies and create the majority of new jobs all around the world,” said Ciaran Quilty, vice president of small businesses, EMEA, at Facebook. “Through Community Boost EU, Facebook will work side by side with small businesses and startups to help them grow and hire. Were building additional programs to help people with the skills and resources they need to get jobs or put their own ideas into action.”