Microsoft Commits to Helping People Acquire New Digital Skills Needed for COVID-19 Economy

On June 30, 2020, Microsoft Corporation announced a new global skills initiative aimed at bringing more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year. This is a comprehensive technology initiative that will build on data and digital technology to help those looking to pursue an in-demand job. The announcement comes in response to the global economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting lockdown which accelerated digitization.

“Around the world, 2020 has emerged as one of the most challenging years in many of our lifetimes,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith. “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. 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.”

Now more than ever, online technology is an important step in accelerating economic recovery, especially for those hardest hit by job losses – women, people of color, younger workers, people with disabilities, and individuals with less formal education. “The biggest brunt of the current downturn is being borne by those who can afford it the least,” said Smith. “Our goal is to combine the best in technology with stronger partnerships with governments and nonprofits to help people develop the skills needed to secure a new job.”

This digital skills initiative brings together every part of the Microsoft ecosystem, combining existing and new resources from LinkedIn, GitHub, and more. 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 those with Microsoft Certifications and LinkedIn job seeking tools.

As detailed on the Official Microsoft Blog, the initiative will cover these specific goals:

  • Identify in-demand jobs and the skills needed to fill them. Linkedin will share free real-time labor market data and skills insights.
  • Provide free access to learning paths and comprehensive resources to help people develop the skills needed for in-demand jobs. LinkedIn Learning paths will be free to the end of March 2021.
  • Offer low-cost Microsoft Certifications. Microsoft will offer low-cost access to industry-recognized certifications based on exams that demonstrate proficiency in Microsoft technologies.
  • Include free job-seeking tools. This initiative will include free job-seeking tools to help people who develop these skills pursue new jobs.

The lengthy blog post takes about 40 minutes to read thoroughly; it includes graphs, charts, lists and links. It also covers some other topics, including the statistics behind unemployment, and which types of jobs are most at risk. Additional information can be found at the Microsoft microsite https://news.microsoft.com/skills.

The resources referred to above can all be accessed at a central location on LinkedIn at https://opportunity.linkedin.com (available online in four languages: English, French, German and Spanish). A job seeker or anyone looking to develop on-demand skills can start here and will be guided through the learning paths based on the roles in which they are interested.

Microsoft also announced that it is creating a new learning app in Microsoft Teams designed to help employers skill and upskill new and current employees as people return to work and as the economy adds jobs. According to Microsoft, the Teams Learning app will “allow employers to integrate world-class content from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, a customer’s own content, and other content providers all in one place.” According to ZDNet, the app builds on the chat and other existing functionalities of Teams. It will roll out in preview and will become generally available later this calendar year.

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