Feb 4, 2022 - Economy & Business

Google and Ford team up on mobility research and job training in Detroit

Image of Detroit's iconic Michigan Central train station, under renovation to become a new mobility research hub
Detroit's iconic Michigan Central train station is undergoing renovation as a new 30-acre mobility tech hub. Photo: Ford

Google is joining Ford Motor in an ambitious urban renewal initiative to create a transportation research hub in Detroit and build the skilled workforce needed to bring advanced mobility ideas to life.

Why it matters: Companies are struggling to fill tech jobs with qualified applicants, and many are deciding it's easier to hire unskilled workers and provide them with the necessary digital training.

What's happening: Google is joining Ford as a founding member of Michigan Central, a 30-acre, mobility-focused innovation district housed in the city's iconic abandoned train station and the surrounding neighborhood.

  • The companies will collaborate with startups and other businesses to try to solve the most vexing mobility problems challenging cities like Detroit.
  • Michigan Central will serve as a focal point for the development of electric and autonomous vehicles, along with new forms of micromobility.
  • For example, it will feature the nation's first stretch of road to wirelessly charge electric vehicles while they're in motion.

The backstory: In 2018, Ford announced plans to restore the iconic train station —abandoned since 1988 — as the centerpiece of a vibrant, walkable mobility innovation center in Corktown, Detroit’s oldest neighborhood.

What they're saying: "The arrival of Google as a founding partner is exactly the kind of investment and progress I knew was possible to revitalize our hometown," said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford.

Details: Google will focus on training and educating Detroiters for the types of jobs required by the future transportation ecosystem.

  • The company will open a Code Next Lab at Michigan Central to teach computer science to Detroit high schoolers.
  • And it will partner with local nonprofits to offer basic tech skills through its three- to six-month Google Career Certificates program.
  • Ford said it would join some 150 companies that accept the Google certificate as qualification for relevant jobs, and added that the certificate training will help current Ford employees add new digital skills.

What they're saying: "Jobs of the future require digital skills," Google chief financial officer Ruth Porat told Axios.

  • Digital literacy is "the new language that’s needed in order to succeed professionally."
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