Microsoft has announced a $20 million commitment in support of a global initiative to provide twenty-five million people with digital job skills.
As societies begin to reopen after months of business shutdowns and stay-in-place orders, it has become increasingly clear that workers need expanded access to digital skills. Combining existing and new resources from LinkedIn, GitHub, and Microsoft itself, the initiative will prioritize three areas: supporting the use of data to identify in-demand jobs and the skills needed to fill them; offering free access to content from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, and the GitHub Learning Lab so that people can develop the skills these positions require; and providing low-cost Microsoft Certifications and free LinkedIn job-seeking tools to help people pursue jobs in the digital economy.
Microsoft will award $5 million of its $20 million in cash grants to U.S. community-based organizations that are led by and serve communities of color. The company also pledged to make stronger data and analytics available to governments so they can better assess local economic needs and to advocate for public policy innovations that will advance skilling opportunities needed in the changed economy.
“According to Microsoft calculations, global unemployment in 2020 may reach a quarter of a billion people,” Microsoft president Brad Smith wrote in a blog post. “As is often the case, the biggest brunt of this downturn is being borne by those with lower educational attainment, people with disabilities, people of color, women, younger workers, and individuals who have less formal education. The impact on communities of color in the United States is especially concerning….The pandemic has shined a harsh light on what was already a widening skills gap around the world — a gap that will need to be closed with even greater urgency to accelerate economic recovery.”