Facebook's promising to help Europe learn digital skills and invest more in Paris artificial intelligence research centre

Lynsey Barber
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Lumiere London 2018
Investment by Facebook comes amid tech scrutiny (Source: Getty)

Facebook is the latest US tech giant to jump on the digital skills bandwagon, promising to train one million people across Europe by 2020.

And it's also putting more cash behind its artificial intelligence efforts, investing €10m more in its Paris-based AI research lab.

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Spain, Poland and Italy will be home to new "community skills hubs" which aim to teach people and small businesses, including media literacy and it will work with London digital consultancy Freeformers to train 300,000 people across the region, including the UK, from coding to how to open a bank account online.

Facebook also aims to get more than a quarter of a million small firms expanding their business online.

In France, the tech company will double the number of engineers and researchers working on AI , and increase its PhD fellows from 10 to 40. The fresh cash will also go on scholarships for students, funding for servers and creating open datasets for public institutions in France.

Facebook first opened the research centre in 2015 and has since chosen France to locate its "startup garage" incubator.

Google, Microsoft and Amazon have also ramped up efforts to get more people into digital skills training, with fears that many are being left behind and leaving a skills gap for businesses when hiring.

"Technology can change lives. That’s why we want to give people the support they need to start a business and get the job of their dreams. Thank you to everyone who has made these programs possible," said Facebook's operating chief Sheryl Sandberg.

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The European Commission's vice president for the digital Single Market Andrus Ansip welcomed the move as "very good news" ahead of a meeting with Sandberg on Tuesday.

Facebook is under greater scrutiny by authorities in Europe over issues such as fake news and hate speech amid a wider backlash over "big tech".

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