TORONTO – Canada’s job market is getting significant support from Google after a $1 million investment into MaRS and the launch of Google’s job search feature, a tool that’s been available in the U.S. for almost a year.
The $1 million grant from Google will go towards MaRS‘ Employment Pathway Platform (EPP), an online tool the not-for-profit corporation says will help Canadians prepare themselves for the jobs of the future.
Representatives from Google.org – Google’s philanthropic organization, which announced a new $50 million initiative to prepare people for new jobs last year – and MaRS took to the podium this morning at the MaRS Discovery District to shed some light on the EPP platform, slated to launch in 2019. It’s Google.org’s first ever work initiative grant in Canada, said Andrew Dunkelman, Google.org’s economic opportunity lead.
“The idea behind EPP is simple – give people access to data that will help them make choices about their careers and help them build connections to training opportunities in order to facilitate those career moves,” he explained. “Executing on that idea, however, is harder than it sounds. Across hundreds of applications around the world, we saw this idea a lot, but this is the only one of its kind that we’re funding.”
That’s because MaRS has a unique mix of data, social innovation and expertise and connections to training providers and more than 5,000 tech startups, he said. Joe Greenwood, MaRS’ executive lead, data and program director for data catalyst, echoed Dunkelman’s comments, and said Toronto is perfect for the EPP because of the city’s growing tech ecosystems which now rival those found in New York and San Francisco.
After the presentation, Dunkelman told ITWC that the platform will not serve as a training tool, but will instead point people in the direction of hands-on training opportunities and create pathways to achieve a successful career change.
“We know that in the future of work will involve people needing to develop more skills in their careers, and potentially make career changes, in order to move up,” said Dunkelman. “The platform will help guide people what their next move, and then the move after that, could be. MaRS really brought together the whole package which we didn’t see anywhere else.”
It’s unknown what the EPP interface will actually look like, but Greenwood did point to places the platform could tap into in order to find out more about users interacting with it. Online profiles, resumes and LinkedIn accounts were some examples.
“Or they can just enter some basic information about themselves,” suggested Greenwood.
When asked about which partners have jumped on board the project, Greenwood didn’t specify any by name, but did say 10 employment partners have agreed to participate. The EPP will initially focus on helping youth and Indigenous people and will eventually move on to the tech startup ecosystems.
“This project is very partnership driven,” he said.
‘Hey Google, find jobs near me’
It’s been a long time coming, but Canadians can finally ask Google to help them find jobs.
A lot of people turn to the search engine when looking for employment, which is why it made sense to roll out the feature in Canada, said Sabrina Geremia, Google Canada’s country director, during this morning’s announcement. It’s unknown how exactly Google Jobs will factor into the backend of the EPP platform, but Joy Xi, product manager at Google, confirmed that will be the case.
“Any of the jobs on the MaRS jobs repository will get surfaced when they search for jobs on Google, and then in the future as opportunities come up for the EPP program in particular, we’ll integrate that as well.”
When asked why it took so long for Google’s job search feature to launch in Canada, Xi said it had a lot to do with getting employers on board.
“We have a very specific metrics-driven process to test and make sure the product is ready for the local geography. That was a big part of it,” she told ITWC. “We also had to make sure that both sides of the platform were ready. We can’t give users a good experience without the right jobs, so a lot of the work was working with providers in Canada to bring them on board.”
Xi said what excites her the most about the rollout of the job search feature in Canada is the fact that it’s an open platform, allowing anyone to post a job opening.
“A mom and pop shop with an opening for a clerk can integrate with Google Jobs, and that opening can now be found by anyone using the feature,” she said.