Verizon takes aim at corporate responsibility with its new Citizen Verizon initiative

Verizon sign
Verizon's new Citizen Verizon program will provide youths with digital skills training as well as training and tools for 500,000 jobs in the future. (FierceWireless)(Monica Alleven/Fierce Wireless)

Verizon announced a new "responsible" corporate business plan on Tuesday that includes a pledge to prepare 500,000 mostly lower-wage people for jobs of the future by 2030 through skills training and job advancement tools.

Verizon will also provide 10 million youths with digital skills training to help them thrive in a modern economy and provide 1 million small businesses with the resources needed to help them thrive in the digital economy by 2030.

With shelter-in-place and quarantine policies, small businesses were hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic, with many of them now struggling to re-open.

Verizon also said it would become carbon neutral in its operations by 2035 by reducing emissions, investing in renewable energy and purchasing carbon offsets

“With Citizen Verizon, our team is making a significant commitment to move the world forward through the power of action and technology,” said Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO of Verizon, in a statement. “There has never been a more critical moment to demonstrate the power of purpose. To continue being one of the world's technology leaders, we must address the economic, environmental and societal issues that are most pressing.”

On the education front, Verizon will create an education platform geared towards grades K-12 that will encompass the hybrid learning models that have emerged due to the coronavirus pandemic. Schools are faced with the prospect of remote learning this fall, or a hybrid model of remote learning and in-classroom education.

Under Citizen Verizon, the telco will provide digital literacy training for parents, remote learning resources for teachers, content for under-resourced youth, and tech guidance for school districts. The program's goal is to provide 10 million children with digital access and skills training by 2030.

RELATED: Verizon embraces change, innovation in time of coronavirus crisis

To help prepare the most vulnerable and under-resourced communities for the jobs of the future, Verizon is leveraging technology to create a platform that provides digital tools and services to assist individuals in their path to employment; job advancement programs that equip vulnerable populations—such as low wage employees and minorities— with the skills and mentorship they need to enter the future economy; and collaborative partnerships to advance the conversation around skills based hiring. The program builds upon Verizon’s upskilling and tech training programs for its own employees.

While new technologies, such as automation, leading to some jobs being cut across the telecom industry, Verizon has focused on re-training 20,000 of its employees. Unlike AT&T, which has cut jobs both before and during the coronavirus pandemic, Verizon hasn't laid off any of its 135,000 employees during the pandemic.

The launch of Citizen Verizon follows up on the telco's efforts to support its customers, employees, stakeholders and society during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, Verizon and the Verizon Foundation have provided over $55 million in contributions and donations to COVID-19 relief efforts in the U.S. and around the world.