The company said it is focused on providing access to digital skills for a wide variety of people. It is also giving $20 million in cash grants to help nonprofit organizations worldwide.
As societies reopen, 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. One of the keys to a genuinely inclusive recovery is programs to provide easier access to digital skills for people hardest hit by job losses, including those with lower incomes, women and underrepresented minorities, according to Microsoft.
To help address this need, 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 existing and new resources from LinkedIn, GitHub and Microsoft, the company said.
The initiative will focus on three areas:
- 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.
“At its heart, this is a comprehensive technology initiative that will build on data and digital technology,” Microsoft said in a blog post. “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.”
SEE: Here are the top tech skills you need to know for the job you want (TechRepublic)
In addition, Microsoft said it is backing the effort with $20 million in cash grants to help nonprofit organizations worldwide. 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.
“Our vision for skills extends beyond these immediate steps for job seekers. Employees will also need to skill and re-skill through their careers, and we want to make it easier for employers to help,” the company said. “Our vision is a connected ‘system of learning’ that helps empower everyone to pursue lifelong learning.”
As a result, Microsoft also announced it is developing a learning app in Microsoft Teams to help employers upskill new and existing employees. The app will incorporate 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,” the company said. “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.”
Three areas of focus
Microsoft said the global skills initiative is based on months of planning across the company to provide meaningful help to 25 million people globally by the end of 2021, the company said. Its activities will be focused on three areas:
1. Data and analytics to better understand in-demand skills and jobs
Several years ago, LinkedIn operationalized an Economic Graph to track workforce trends and provide a window into emerging skills gaps. The Economic Graph is a digital representation of the global economy based on more than 690 million professionals, 50 million companies, 11 million job listings, 36,000 defined skills, and 90,000 schools. It contains all the data on LinkedIn and shows available jobs, their required skills, and the existing skills job seekers have, the company said.
As part of this new initiative, LinkedIn is sharing free, real-time labor market data and skills insights to help governments, policymakers and business leaders understand what’s happening in their local labor markets: what companies are hiring, the top jobs companies are hiring for and the trending skills for those jobs. This data can be accessed using a new interactive tool at linkedin.com/workforce. Data is available for more than 180 countries and regions (150+ cities, 30+ countries). Users can search by country or region and download the data sets.
The Economic Graph was also used to identify 10 jobs that the company said are in demand in today’s economy and are well-positioned to continue to grow in the future:
- Software developer
- Sales representative
- Project manager
- IT administrator (Prepare for CompTIA Network+ certification)
- Customer service specialist
- Digital marketing specialist
- IT support / Help desk (Prepare for the CompTIA A+ certification)
- Data analyst
- Financial analyst
- Graphic designer
2. Free access to learning paths and comprehensive resources to help people develop the skills needed for in-demand jobs
To help people pursue jobs in these areas, LinkedIn Learning paths aligned with each of these roles will be available free of charge through the end of March.
In addition to these LinkedIn Learning paths, the company said it is offering through Microsoft Learn free and in-depth technical learning content that also supports these roles. For roles that are more technical in nature, job seekers can go deeper on specific role-based Microsoft technologies with Microsoft Learn modules.
Job seekers pursuing developer roles will also have access to the GitHub Learning Lab to practice their skills. GitHub Learning Lab is a bot-based learning tool that uses repositories to teach technology, coding, Git and GitHub via real-life, demo-based modules.
To provide people with easier access to the soft skills needed to pursue a new job, Microsoft said it is also offering free access to four horizontal LinkedIn Learning paths:
3. Connecting skills to opportunities through job seeker tools
As part of the initiative, Microsoft is also offering exams for Microsoft Certifications available at a $15 discounted fee to people who self-attest that their employment has been impacted by COVID-19.
Participants will have the ability to schedule an exam from September to the end of the year, and exam takers will have until Dec. 31 to complete the exams that provide five fundamentals certifications and eight role-based certifications. These will include:
- Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals
- Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals
- Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Fundamentals
- Microsoft Certified: Power Platform Fundamentals
- Microsoft 365 Certified: Fundamentals
- Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate
- Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate
- Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate
- Microsoft Certified: Power Platform App Maker Associate
- Microsoft 365 Certified: Teams Administrator Associate
- Microsoft 365 Certified: Security Administrator Associate
- Microsoft 365 Certified: Developer Associate
- Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate
This post was written by and was first posted to TechRepublic
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