Behind Facebook’s Ambitious Plan to Train 1 Million U.S. Small Business Owners by 2020

The shortage of skilled labor could result in 85.2 million unfilled jobs by 2030

Facebook Community Boost will now reach 50 U.S. cities by year-end Facebook

Facebook Friday announced a goal of training 1 million small business owners in the U.S. on digital skills by 2020.

Director of business education Amy Brooks revealed in a Newsroom post that a study by Korn Ferry predicted that the shortage of skilled labor in the U.S. could result in 85.2 million unfilled jobs by 2030, and Facebook wants to do its part to help reverse the skills gap.

Here’s how Facebook will try to accomplish its goal:

The social network introduced its Facebook Community Boost digital training program last November, initially aiming to visit 30 cities in the U.S. in 2018, with eight more stops added to the tour in March.

On Friday, Facebook announced that Community Boost will now reach 50 U.S. cities by year-end.

Brooks said the program allows Facebook to go into a community and offer in-person training, while leaving a “legacy of training online,” and she added that attendance at Facebook Community Boost events rises as the events progress due to word of mouth.

Facebook has also teamed up with and trained more than 60 organizations in 12 cities—including St. Louis, Houston and Albuquerque, N.M.—enabling those organizations to provide continued training for small businesses and job seekers.

One of those local organizations is Grand Circus in Michigan, which plans to train 3,000 people in digital marketing and coding over the next two years.

Facebook said that since it started working with Grand Circus, 85 percent of graduates from its first coding boot camp have found either new or higher-paying jobs.

The social network added that Grand Circus will kick off a new 12-week boot camp in July.

Brooks said college graduates are entering the work force with outdated training, and Facebook hadn’t established any formal relations with higher education institutions.

To remedy that, the company announced a Digital Marketing Certificate program with Central New Mexico Community College in April and details on a similar arrangement with Bunker Hill Community College in Boston will be revealed shortly, and Facebook said it plans to have formed 20 such community college partnerships by year-end.

Brooks said students at those colleges will be able to choose from a digital skills curriculum that includes materials from Facebook Community Boost and Facebook Blueprint, the e-learning initiative the social network launched in March 2015.

Speaking of Blueprint, Facebook revealed last November that more than 1 million small businesses have registered for courses (more than 160,000 in the U.S. alone), which are available in 14 languages, and the company plans to train an additional 250,000 small business owners via Blueprint by 2020.

Brooks wrote in her blog post, “With nearly 80 online courses, Blueprint allows people to learn about Facebook and Instagram marketing at their own pace. Plus, our Blueprint team works with local associations such as the Small Business Administration, America’s Small Business Development Centers and the National Small Business Association to offer free in-person local training events leveraging Blueprint curriculum.”

Finally, this fall, Facebook will bring its Learn With Facebook online training resources to the U.S.

Learn With Facebook is currently live in Germany and India, and interested parties in the U.S. can sign up here to receive alerts when the platform goes live.

Brooks wrote that Learn With Facebook goes beyond digital advertising training, providing help on topics such as bolstering résumés, retraining and how entrepreneurs can move forward with their ideas.

Facebook said every lesson in Learn With Facebook includes advice and case studies from industry experts and professionals, as well as “insider tips from the Facebook team.”

Learn With Facebook is coming to the U.S. this fall
Facebook David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.