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Social networking giant Facebook on Wednesday said it expects to train about 0.5 million people in India on digital skills by 2020 and has unveiled two programmes designed for individuals and startups. The two programmes - Facebook Digital Training and Facebook Startup Training Hubs - are being rolled out in India before any other country. "India is poised to have a digital economy worth $ 1 trillion by 2022. We believe the best way to prepare India for this digital economy is by providing tools, knowledge, and skills people need to succeed," Facebook Head of Programmes, India, and South Asia Ritesh Mehta told PTI. He added that these tools will help people learn digital skills as well as enable entrepreneurs and SMB (small and medium businesses) in digitising their business. Apart from these two, Facebook also runs offline training programmes as well as Blueprint (free online training for advertising on Facebook). "Through all these initiatives, we hope to train more than half a million people in India by 2020," he said adding that more than 51,700 SMBs have been trained by Facebook in India, including 12,000 women entrepreneurs, through Boost and SheMeansBusiness. Facebook is working with organisations like Digital Vidya, EDII, DharmaLife and StartupIndia to develop the curriculum that is designed to work in low network strength regions as well. Facebook, which counts India as its largest user base after the US, has 217 million users here.
About 4 million small businesses have their Pages on the social networking platform. "The content, which has been kept light keeping in mind network conditions in the country, will be available in English and Hindi. We will continue to add lessons and content in the coming months, adapting the curriculum based on people's feedback," Mehta said. Through Facebook Digital Training, the US-based company will offer free social and content marketing training (not limited to Facebook) for anyone who is looking to develop their digital knowledge and skills. Speaking about the Facebook Startup Training Hubs programme, Facebook Head of Platform Partnerships India and South Asia said it will cover a range of subjects including how entrepreneurs can protect their ideas, how to hire, how to go about getting funding, regulations and legal hurdles an entrepreneur needs to consider, among others. Citing a report, Mehta said almost 93 per cent of SMBs surveyed in India said digital and social media skills are important when making hiring decisions. However, lack of familiarity with digital tools is also a challenge for the SMBs.
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