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Jake Ward, President of the Connected Commerce Council (3C), during Google's virtual Small Business Matters Roundatable.

85% of SMBs say COVID-19 made them rethink their approach to digital tools.

Why it’s important: SMBs that are using digital tools, technology services and have access to online marketplaces are more likely to have survived the early days of COVID-19 and become resilient because of it, said Jake Ward, President of the Connected Commerce Council (3C).

  • SMBs that were early adopters of digital tools anticipated 4X better revenue for 2020 compared to those that were less prepared digitally.

3C and Google surveyed over 7,000 SMBs and found that nearly every small business in the U.S. was affected by COVID-19 in one capacity or another – and still is, in many cases.

  • But the study also reveals how SMBs have utilized digital tools in their business models in order to overcome these unprecedented challenges.

“Access to digital tools, services and marketplaces are the silver bullet for millions of American small businesses. They’re the thing that enables growth, resilience and sustainability in the long-term.”

- Jake Ward

Key numbers from the Digitally Driven report:

  • 72% of SMBs increased the use of digital tools during COVID-19.
  • 53% plan to continue to use more digital tools after the pandemic.

The challenge: SMBs have to believe that they can make the most out of these digital tools, said Ward.

  • “It’s the investment of time and energy ahead of the crisis that will make your business more sustainable,” he added.

The takeaway: The U.S. has seen a remarkable digital transformation over the last 6 months and Ward is confident it’s here to stay.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 23, 2020 - Axios Events

Reskilling America: The path for post-pandemic job recovery

Learning new skills will be essential for many Americans who lost jobs as a result of COVID-19, since many of the jobs will not be returning. But not everyone can reskill the traditional way.

Why it’s important: To thrive in a rapidly changing job market, American workers will have to rethink their approach to skills and work.

As one expert at Google’s Powering Economic Opportunity: New Pathways to Job Recovery event put it: Job seekers must now be life-long learners.

At the event, policy makers, local government, nonprofit leaders and other experts talked about how they can pool resources and work together to better prepare American workers for today’s job market.

Their top three solutions:

  • Expand access to free or nearly free digital tools and training, like Grow with Google’s free digital training and resources.
  • Develop online courses and certificates — like Google Career Certificates — and a way to scale these offerings to communities that need it most to train a more equitable workforce
  • Encourage life-long learning and make reskilling resources more accessible to people.

According to Grow with Google VP Lisa Gevelber, “For years, Google has supported digital skilling programs and created pathways to help people secure good-paying jobs. Accessible job-training solutions will help people get hired into jobs that will be most relevant in the post-pandemic economy."

What this means: Companies are developing digital tools and programs that help people better understand the digital world, job skills training, and career certificates that job seekers can use to pursue in-demand, better-wage careers.

Oftentimes, these companies partner with governments, nonprofits and higher education institutions to help bridge the gap.

  • One example: Grow with Google offers digital tools and training to people looking to start new jobs or careers.

    Google’s online Career Certificates prepare people with no experience for jobs in high-growth, high-paying fields including IT Support, User Experience (UX) Design, and Data Analytics in 3-6 months with no degree required.

Key numbers: “We have over 400,000 people enrolled in these programs already, and a hundred employers across America who are hiring the certificate graduates. Top companies in retail, entertainment and finance, and, of course, Google,” Gevelber said.

Even more, Grow with Google has partnered with Jobs for the Future (JFF) to help bring these career certificates to over a hundred community colleges around the U.S.

The impact: Students across Illinois and Alabama “really see their job prospects increase after completing a certificate,” said Maria Flynn, president and CEO of Jobs of the Future.

  • One Ohio student who listed her certificate credentials online has received five times more searches per week and several interview invitations.

When asked how local governments can get involved, Flynn suggested “expanding access to high-quality, short-term credentials like the Google certificate.” This helps meet the urgent need to reskill workers as well as the longer-term needs for creating better quality jobs.”

The takeaway: Making certificates, and other alternative career pathways, more accessible opens up a world where it’s easier for people to reskill for a new career – or a lifetime.

What Google is saying:

“What we are seeing on a positive note is how resilient Americans are, and we're seeing them put technology to work.”

– Lisa Gevelber, Vice President, Grow with Google

Learn more.

Updated Dec 23, 2020 - Axios Events

3. Why alternative pathways to jobs is about more than money

Expanding access to digital tools, online training, and certificate programs could bring American workers closer to landing in-demand jobs that offer the potential for higher pay, but there’s more to it.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 years in prison

An anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar.Photo: Hkun Lat/Getty Images

A Myanmar court sentenced the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Monday to four years in prison on charges of "inciting public unrest" and breaking COVID-19 protocols, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's the first of several verdicts that could result in the 76-year-old Nobel laureate being imprisoned for the rest of her life. The 11 charges she faces have been widely criticised as politically motivated.