Microsoft has launched a new initiative meant to help 25 million people worldwide acquire digital skills needed in a Covid-19 economy.
Around the world, 2020 has emerged as one of the most challenging years in many of our lifetimes.
In six months, the world has endured multiple challenges, including a pandemic that has spurred a global economic crisis.
As societies reopen, it’s apparent that the economy in July will not be what it was in January, says the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella.
Increasingly, one of the key steps needed to foster a safe and successful economic recovery is expanded access to the digital skills needed to fill new jobs.
And one of the keys to a genuinely inclusive recovery are programs to provide easier access to digital skills for people hardest hit by job losses, including those with lower incomes, women, and underrepresented minorities.
To help address this need, Microsoft on Tuesday launched a global skills initiative aimed at bringing more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year.
“This initiative will bring together every part of our company, combining existing and new resources from LinkedIn, GitHub, and Microsoft”, Nadella said.
It will be grounded in three areas of activity:
(1) The use of data to identify in-demand jobs and the skills needed to fill them;
(2) Free access to learning paths and content to help people develop the skills these positions require;
(3) Low-cost certifications and free job-seeking tools to help people who develop these skills pursue new jobs.
“At its heart, this is a comprehensive technology initiative that will build on data and digital technology. It starts with data on jobs and skills from the LinkedIn Economic Graph. It provides free access to content in LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, and the GitHub Learning Lab, and couples these with Microsoft Certifications and LinkedIn job seeking tools”, he said.
In addition, Microsoft is backing the effort with $20 million in cash grants to help nonprofit organizations worldwide assist the people who need it most.
“One-quarter of this total, or $5 million, will be provided in cash grants to community-based nonprofit organizations that are led by and serve communities of color in the United States.
“Our vision for skills extends beyond these immediate steps for job seekers. Employees will also need to skill and reskill through their careers, and we want to make it easier for employers to help. Our vision is a connected “system of learning” that helps empower everyone to pursue lifelong learning. That is why we are also announcing today that Microsoft is developing a new learning app in Microsoft Teams to help employers upskill new and existing employees. This will bring together best in class content from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, third-party training providers, and a company’s own learning content and make it all available in a place where employees can easily learn in the flow of their work.
“We are also pledging that we will make stronger data and analytics available to governments around the world so they can better assess local economic needs. Finally, we will use our voice to advocate for public policy innovations that we believe will advance the skilling opportunities people will need in the changed economy.
“While this represents the largest skills initiative in Microsoft’s history, we recognize that no company can come close to closing the skills gap alone. Sustained progress will require a renewed partnership between stakeholders across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, and we’re committed to supporting this. Following is a complete description of our thinking and plans”.