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Microsoft has announced the launch of a programme for developing digital literacy, digital skills and cloud skills across the UK.
The programme aims to reach more than 560,000 people by 2020 through the development of digital apprenticeships, digital literacy programmes and training to develop cloud tech experts.
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Cindy Rose, Microsoft’s UK CEO, said one of the aims of the programme is to increase the number of people with cloud skills in the UK to meet the need that will be created by disruptive technology innovation.
“We believe maintaining the UK’s global competitiveness relies on a successful transition to a cloud-enabled economy. At Microsoft, we aim to do our part by investing back into the UK digital economy to ensure people of all ages and backgrounds are equipped with the skills necessary to thrive into the future,” said Rose.
As the need for cloud technologies has increased, so has the need for people with cloud skills – but the UK is lacking in skilled technologists across the board.
As part of this cloud focus, Microsoft will use its Cloud Skills Initiative to train 500,000 people in the UK to be cloud technology experts.
Employees in technology roles and companies are not the only people in need of digital skills as more roles become dependent on the use of technology, and many adults in the UK still lack the basic skills needed to function in the modern world.
Many public sector employees also struggle with digital technologies, and Microsoft’s research has found only 35% of those working in the public sector think they have a digitally literate leadership team.
As part of Microsoft’s digital skills programme, the firm plans to offer free online digital literacy training to the entire UK population, as well as train 30,000 UK public servants in how to deliver digital services to citizens.
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Apprenticeships have been flagged as a good way to fill tech skills gaps across the UK, as employers can upskill and mould apprentices to fit the necessary roles.
Microsoft will create 30,000 digital apprenticeships roles on its existing apprenticeships programme to increase the number of people learning on-the-job digital skills.
“Microsoft sees digital apprenticeships as a vital tool to address the skills shortage in the UK and ensuring the UK’s competitive advantage. This is not just about the numbers of people acquiring these skills so necessary for the future, but also about attracting and supporting a diverse range of people,” said Rose.
The firm has exceeded its original 2012 target of training 4,000 digital apprentices and has worked with 25,000 partners across the UK to train 11,000 digital apprentices.
Ensuring the UK has workers with appropriate digital skills is one of the key focuses of the technology industry over the next five years, especially in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union (EU).
“In the wake of the EU referendum vote, the UK is looking at charting a new and different path to its future. Microsoft is committed, as it has been for more than 30 years, to helping the UK realise its full potential,” said Rose.