Microsoft launches initiative to help 25 million people worldwide

As part of our mission to help Croydoners break into tech, the Microsoft Team are supporting the digital community with free virtual training sessions.

Around the world, 2020 has emerged as one of the most challenging years in many of our lifetimes. In 6 months, the world has endured multiple challenges, including a pandemic that has spurred a global economic crisis.

To foster a safe and successful economic recovery, we must expand access to the digital skills needed to fill new jobs. And to make the recovery inclusive, we must provide easier access to digital skills for the people hardest hit by job losses, and those with lower incomes.

Our new digital skills programme

To help address this need, Microsoft is launching a global skills initiative on LinkedIn aimed at bringing more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year.

It will be grounded in 3 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

These LinkedIn Learning paths are available free of charge through the end of March 2021. Each learning path includes a sequence of video content designed to help job seekers develop the core skills needed for each role. This initiative will bring together every part of our company, combining existing and new free resources from LinkedIn, GitHub, and Microsoft.

Our vision for skills

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’s why we’re also 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.

The challenge of the changing economy

COVID-19 will continue to lead to unprecedented reliance on digital skills. In many situations, some workers may spend several months or longer in a “hybrid economy,” where some will be in the workplace while others continue to work from home. The shorter-term “hybrid economy” is a more digital economy. With continued consumer and employee reliance on almost “remote everything”, this need for digital transformation will increase even further.

Long term, economic recovery will take place amid the already-unfolding wave of automation – what some have called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Over the next 5 years, we estimate that the global workforce can absorb around 149 million new technology-oriented jobs. Software development accounts for the largest single share of this forecast, but roles in related fields like data analysis, cyber security, and privacy protection are also poised to grow substantially.

To add to this challenge, existing training is not reaching the populations who need it most. On-the-job training far outpaces distance learning and other alternative modes, limiting options for prospective employees. Perhaps more significantly, on-the-job training is more than 2 times as prevalent among workers who are already in higher-skilled roles, leaving those in more automatable positions even more vulnerable to displacement.

Closing the skills gap

Digital technologies will be key to narrowing the divide, not only because they can expand the reach and accessibility of training, but because proficiency in these tools is in top demand. But technology is only a means to an end, not an end in itself. In other words, people-oriented “success skills” remain as essential as ever – perhaps even more so given their durability at a time when technology continues to evolve at breakneck speed.

The pandemic is shining a harsh light on what was already a widening skills gap around the world – a gap that will need to be closed with even greater urgency to accelerate economic recovery. Navigating these challenges to close the skills gap will require a renewed partnership between stakeholders across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

In addition to these LinkedIn Learning paths, we are offering through Microsoft Learn free and in-depth technical learning content. For roles that are more technical in nature, job seekers can go deeper on specific role-based Microsoft technologies with Microsoft Learn modules, gaining the most in-demand skills on widely used technologies.

Find out more about all the free training courses available.

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