Microsoft to help 25 million people acquire new digital skills for the COVID-19 economy

Microsoft Corp. has announced a new scheme to upskill 25 million people in response to the global pandemic.

Microsoft is pleased to announce a new global skills initiative, which aims to bring more digital skills to 25 million people across the globe by the end of 2020. This is in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as increasing people’s digital skills will be a key factor in economic recovery.

The scheme includes immediate steps to help those looking to reskill and pursue in-demand jobs, bringing together all parts of the company and combining resources from  LinkedIn, GitHub and Microsoft.

Building digital skills

Some features of the initiative are:

  • The use of data to identify in-demand jobs and the skills needed to fill them.
  • Free access to learning paths and content to help people develop the skills these positions require.
  • Low-cost certifications and free job-seeking tools to help people who develop these skills pursue new jobs.

The project will build on data and technology, starting with data on jobs and skills from the LinkedIn Economic Graph. Participants will benefit from free access to content in LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn and the GitHub Learning Lab, as well as Microsoft Certifications and LinkedIn job-seeking tools.

These will be available here, in four languages: English, French, German and Spanish.

The company is also providing $20 million in cash grants to help nonprofit organizations worldwide assist those most in need. $5 million of this will be provided in cash grants to community-based nonprofit organizations led by and serving communities of colour in the US. Furthermore, it has promised to make stronger data and analytics — including data from the LinkedIn Economic Graph — available to governments around the world so they can better assess local economic needs.

Microsoft also announced the creation of a new learning app in Microsoft Teams, which will assist employers in training and upskilling both new and current employees as they return to work, and as the economy adds jobs.

Ensuring no one is left behind

“COVID-19 has created both a public health and an economic crisis, and as the world recovers, we need to ensure no one is left behind,” says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “Today, we’re bringing together resources from Microsoft inclusive of LinkedIn and GitHub to reimagine how people learn and apply new skills — and help 25 million people facing unemployment due to COVID-19 prepare for the jobs of the future.”

“The biggest brunt of the current downturn is being borne by those who can afford it the least,” says Microsoft President Brad Smith. “Unemployment rates are spiking for people of color and women, as well as younger workers, people with disabilities and individuals with less formal education. 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.”

“Creating opportunity for every member of the global workforce drives everything we do at LinkedIn,” adds LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky. “As a part of the Microsoft ecosystem, we have the unique ability to help job seekers around the world — especially those who have been disproportionately disadvantaged during the COVID-19 crisis — gain the skills and find the jobs they deserve.

“We’re proud to be bringing the right data about what the jobs and skills of the future will be to create the right learning paths to help 25 million job seekers find their next opportunities.”

As part of this project, Microsoft has identified 10 jobs as having the greatest number of job openings. These are roles that have had steady growth over the past four years, pay a livable wage, and require skills that can be learned online.

The jobs in the list most relevant to the museum workforce are Project Manager, Data Analyst and Graphic Designer according to Catherine Devine, Microsoft Worldwide Education, Business Strategy Leader – Museums and Libraries.

It is hoped that this new scheme can help many of those professionals across the museums and cultural sector, who have lost their jobs as a result of the crisis, to upskill, retrain and remain in the industry. 

Founded in 1975, Microsoft now operates in 170 countries working across the museum sector through digital transformations. Cultural institutions around the world are using Microsoft technology to reimagine the museum experience.