Microsoft on Tuesday announced a new global skills initiative to help 25 million people worldwide acquire new digital skills by the end of the year. The announcement comes in response to the global economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"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," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said during a digital event.
"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."
Expanded access to digital skills is an important step in accelerating economic recovery, especially for the people hardest hit by job losses.
This initiative includes immediate steps to help those looking to reskill and pursue an in-demand job and brings together every part of the company, combining existing and new resources from LinkedIn, GitHub and Microsoft.
This includes 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.
This is a comprehensive technology initiative that will build on data and digital technology, Microsoft said. It starts with data on jobs and skills from the LinkedIn Economic Graph.
The initiative provides free access to content in LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn and the GitHub Learning Lab, and couples those with Microsoft Certifications and LinkedIn job seeking tools.
These resources can all be accessed at a central location, opportunity.linkedin.com, and will be broadly available online in four languages: English, French, German and Spanish.
In addition, Microsoft is backing the effort with $20 million in cash grants to help nonprofit organisations 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.
Microsoft also pledged 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 will use its voice to advocate for public policy innovations that will advance skilling opportunities needed in the changed economy.
The tech giant also announced it is creating a new learning app in Microsoft Teams designed to help employers skill and upskill new and current employees as people return to work and as the economy adds jobs.
"The biggest brunt of the current downturn is being borne by those who can afford it the least," said 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."