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How Microsoft is helping people impacted by COVID-19 gain skills for in-demand roles

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Akin Banuso
Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, Akin Banuso

The COVID-19 pandemic has had unprecedented impact on organisations and industries the world over.

in demand jobs

Source: Microsoft Nigeria

While digital transformation has presented a call to action to entire industries to upskill and reskill, the onset of COVID-19 is said to have impacted the jobs of up to 80 million people.

As economies slowly start to reopen, jobs that were impacted and lost at the start of the global lockdowns, may now not exist.

Microsoft, in an effort to not only reaffirm its commitment to enabling the continent to achieve more through digital transformation with technology as a key vector, but also to forge commitment to assisting local economies during the pandemic, hosted a roundtable in Lagos, Nigeria yesterday to discuss how the rampant digital transformation accelerated by COVID-19 has impacted skills demand.

Speaking at the roundtable event, the Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, Akin Banuso, noted that COVID-19 has dramatically accelerated the pace of digital transformation and as a result of this, digital skills are required immediately.

“According to our research, by 2025 digital job capacity will mean the creation of 149 million new jobs. Further to this, 800 million people will be required to learn new skills to fully execute their jobs by 2030. As the economy in Nigeria starts to slowly reopen for business, we anticipate the return to an economy with different needs and certainly one were a new challenge presents itself in terms of skills.”

Off the back of the recent Global Skilling Initiative announcement to aid 25 million job seekers worldwide to acquire the skills required to survive in the new digital economy – the roundtable, one of the first in a series developed to provide a continental answer to youth employment and skill promotion brought together thought leaders and decision makers from the private sector, IGOs, Government Agencies and Academia.

“One of our key objectives today was to gain a better understanding of the available models, approaches and best practices in employment as we edge closer to the recovery phase of this crisis”, said Microsoft Director of Corporate, External and Legal Affairs, MEA Emerging Markets, John Edokpolo.

John Edokpolo

John Edokpolo

The global skills initiative is set to use data to identify in-demand jobs and provide free access to learning content by investing in  free access to in-demand skills training, discounted tests that provide industry-recognised certifications, and free connections to employability tools. In so doing, pull together every part of the holistic brand the encompasses Microsoft, LinkedIn, and GitHub to integrate these offerings to meet job seekers’ and the economy’s needs.

While the roundtable also sought to strengthen collaboration between partners for employment- orientated skills development and look to build a consensus and further commitments for key stakeholders on a way forward, it also looked to facilitate valuable dialogue, synergy building and upscaling of public-private sector partnerships for improved youth employability outcome and future jobs.

At the event, special discussion as given to managing the transition to a digitally driven business model, particularly in Nigeria. “As we continue to see organisations of all sizes drive efficiencies through this new accelerated digital transformation – we anticipate seeing the rise of what is called a ‘hybrid economy”, continued Edokpolo. “One where employees will have an option of integrating back into the workplace, while others will choose to carry out their duties remotely. Essentially, this environment is going to rely more increasingly on technology to skills optimisation.”

“While the goal of reaching and changing the lives of 25 million individuals sounds like an incredible task, it cannot be done alone. We hope that through roundtable discussions like todays, our collaborations with the public, private and NGO sector will lead to greater impact in this regard,” continues Banuso.

“We look forward to continuing our sustained efforts in reaching and educating more customers and prospects around the tools and resources available and are excited about working with our community to achieve the ultimate digital change!” concludes Banuso.