Excerpt from Microsoft Blog

Jun 30, 2020   |   Brad Smith – President

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. 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, today Microsoft is launching 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.  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. 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.

[Video: Watch the announcement event here.]

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.

 

The problem we need to solve

Within only a few months, COVID-19 has provoked a massive demand shock, setting off job losses that far exceed the scale of the Great Recession a decade ago. The world will need a broad economic recovery that will require in part the development of new skills among a substantial part of the global workforce.

According to Microsoft calculations, global unemployment in 2020 may reach a quarter of a billion people. It is a staggering number. The pandemic respects no border. In the United States alone, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the country may witness a 12.3 point increase (from 3.5% to 15.8%) in the unemployment rate, equating to more than 21 million newly out-of-work people. Many other countries and continents face similar challenges…

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Supporting these offerings with cash grants to nonprofits

While all these tools, training, and certifications will be available online to millions of people in multiple languages, we recognize the need to supplement them with additional services and support. That’s why we will provide $20 million in financial grants, plus technical support, to nonprofit organizations around the world.

In part this will enable nonprofits to translate these resources into additional languages and to localize and tailor the learning content. These groups will also provide and support teachers and facilitators to help learners complete learning pathways and certification, and provide connections to wrap-around supports, coaching, and mentoring. We expect these grants will enable the nonprofits to reach 5 million unemployed workers, with a focus on particularly vulnerable groups. This includes people with disabilities, people from low-income communities, and people from diverse backgrounds that are underrepresented in tech, including women and underrepresented minorities.

We are launching this initiative globally with several highly-regarded nonprofit partners, including:

  • Trust for the Americas.Through a longstanding partnership, Microsoft and the Trust for the Americas have launched 200 centers across 19 countries in Latin America.
  • Fondazione Mundo Digitale. Committed to creating an more inclusive learning society with fundamental values of education and innovation in Italy, Fondazione Mondo Digitale has partnered with Microsoft to provide a wide range of much needed digital skills trainings with a mission of targeting categories of the population at greatest risk of being excluded.
  • NASSCOM Foundation. Microsoft India has partnered with NASSCOM Foundation and the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to directly train 2,000 young women and trainers at the Industrial Training Institutes on skills leading to Microsoft Certification.
  • Established in 2016 to empower to empower African communities, Microsoft has partnered with Tech4Dev to inspire, advocate and train people across Nigeria on basic digital skills, programming skills, and essential skills needed for the future of work.
  • NPower. With a mission to launch underserved young adults from across Canada into meaningful and sustainable digital careers, Microsoft has partnered with NPower Canada in support of their core Workforce Development program which provides participants with no-cost ICT skills training, industry certification, job placement and career services.
  • National Urban League.Since its founding in 1910, the National Urban League has served African Americans and the long-term unemployed. Microsoft will partner with NUL on initiatives including the Urban Tech Jobs Program to build on this history and mission to connect the long-term unemployed to good-paying jobs in Information Technology.
  • Skillful. Dedicated to enabling all Americans – particularly those without a bachelor’s degree – to secure good jobs in a changing economy, Skillful has partnered with Microsoft to develop skills-based training and employment practices in collaboration with state governments, local employers, educators, workforce development organizations, and others.