In an effort to combat the economic impact of COVID-19, Microsoft is launching a global initiative aimed at digital skills learning. It hopes to educate 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year.
“2020 has emerged as one of the most challenging years in many of our lifetimes,” Microsoft Brad Smith writes in a corporate blog. “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.”
Microsoft’s new initiative combines new and existing LinkedIn, GitHub, and Microsoft resources and will encompass three areas of activity: 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, and low-cost certifications and free job-seeking tools to help people who develop these skills pursue new jobs.
Microsoft is backing the effort with $20 million in cash grants to help nonprofit organizations worldwide assist the people who need it most, and $5 million of it is headed to community-based nonprofit organizations that are led by and serve communities of color in the United States.
As for Microsoft’s technological resources, the firm will use the LinkedIn Economic Graph to provide data on jobs and skills, free access to LinkedIn Learning through March 2021, Microsoft Learn, and GitHub Learning Lab content, discounted Microsoft certifications, and LinkedIn job-seeking tools. The firm also announced that it will create a new learning app in Microsoft Teams that “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.”