Microsoft launches effort to provide digital skills to 25M people this year

Brad Smith, Trevor Noah, and Linda Eddleman during the launch.

Microsoft launched an initiative Monday to teach digital skills to 25 million people who lost their jobs due to Covid-19 by the end of 2020.

The company will combine resources from itself and its subsidiaries LinkedIn and GitHub to identify in-demand jobs and skills, provide free skills and job-seeking tools and low-cost certifications.

Through Linkedin, Microsoft is making some of its labor market insights available to policymakers and the public to identify global and regional demand for skills, emerging jobs and what companies are hiring.

The company will provide $20 million in grants to nonprofits for those who are most under-resourced. Of that, $5 million will go to community-based nonprofits led by and serving communities of color in the U.S.

The launch includes several nonprofit partners including The Trust for the Americas, Fondazione Mundo Digitale, Tech4Dev and the National Urban League.

“Before this year comes to an end, we'll see almost a quarter of a billion people lose their job,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said during a virtual launch event. “It's a staggering number, in part, it's the obvious reaction to this pandemic. ... It's also the result of long-term trends in our economy. Trends that have been unleashing more automation — automation that has been eliminating jobs that often involve more manual work, and replacing them with jobs that are more digitally focused.”

Forecasts show 800 million people will need to learn new skills for their jobs by 2030, CEO Satya Nadella said during the event. The company’s data shows two years’ worth of digital transformation has occurred over the past two months.

Microsoft estimates that by 2025, there will be 149 million new technology jobs, like creating software, cybersecurity, and privacy protection, Smith said.

Microsoft is making certifications for its own technologies available for $15, down from more than $100, for those who say their employment has been impacted by the pandemic. That fee will be paid to third parties to scale to meet any surge in demand for certification exams. Those certifications cover things like Azure, Power Platform, Teams, security, and data analysis.

Microsoft is also developing a new learning application embedded within Microsoft Teams, so employers around the world can more easily provide job training, to release in the fall.

Watch Trevor Noah and Brad Smith interviewing Linda Eddleman here

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