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The initiative builds on data on jobs and skills from the LinkedIn Economic Graph, and provides free access to educational material in LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, and the GitHub Learning Lab – coupled with Microsoft Certifications and LinkedIn job-seeking tools.
Speaking at the launch, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said racial bias and inequality hinder progress for everyone. “Everywhere we look, we are seeing inequity,” he said. “There is no place for hate or bias in our world. We are committed to doing our part.”
Addressing the economic crisis resulting from Covid-19, Nadella spoke about the rise in unemployment and the need to reskill people in digital skills. “During this time of change, people are hungry to gain new skills,” he said. “We want to ensure no one is left behind.”
Microsoft has estimated that 800 million people will need to learn new skills by 2030. “Covid-19 has exacerbated inequality and brought on an unemployment crisis,” said Nadella. “Every job will increasingly require digital skills.”
Microsoft president Brad Smith said: “More people are out of work now than at any time since the Great Depression of the 1930s. We will see a quarter of a billion people lose their jobs. Trends that unleash automation replace manual work with ones that are more digitally focused.”
Smith said that by the middle of this decade, 149 million new jobs will be created in the tech sector.
In a blog post outlining the announcement, Smith wrote: “The programmes we are launching today are focused on helping job seekers. We have a broader vision for skills. We believe we need a connected system of learning. Central to this vision is a recognition that employers have a vital role to play in helping their employees to skill and reskill. We know that employers need additional tools and resources to help here.”
According to Smith, over the last few decades, employers have invested less in training their staff. “We need to help people develop new skills,” he said.
To support employers, Smith said Microsoft would be extending its Teams collaboration platform to provide skills development. “Just as companies today have a system of engagement for customers with CRM [customer relationship management] technology and a system of record with ERP [enterprise resource planning], they will need a system of learning,” he said.
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“This will need to provide a continuous feedback loop between the work, skills and learning required to succeed at the task at hand, as well as the credentials to accelerate career advancement.”
Smith said the new portal on the LinkedIn business network platform will be used to provide free online training, subsidised certification, and information in real time on what jobs are in demand.
Ryan Roslansky, CEO at LinkedIn, said: “As a part of the Microsoft ecosystem, we have the unique ability to help job seekers around the world – especially those who have been disproportionately disadvantaged during the Covid-19 crisis – gain the skills and find the jobs they deserve. We are committed to helping those who have lost their jobs get their next job. Job seekers need access to the data to identify where job opportunities exist.”
Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “Reskilling and retraining are key parts of our Covid recovery programme and digital skills will form a crucial part of that. That is why I welcome this project announced today by Microsoft. It’s a fantastic initiative and demonstrates how we can all play a part in contributing to our recovery and driving growth for the future.”