Microsoft invests in skills initiative for 25m people

Company will make resources available free of charge as work force seeks to upskill

Microsoft has unveiled a new global skills initiative that is aimed at bringing new digital skills to 25 million people by the end of 2020.

The scheme will help people reskill and pursue an in-demand job, and brings together existing and new resources from LinkedIn, GitHub and Microsoft, including the use of data to identify in-demand jobs and the skills needed to fill them.

It also provides free access to learning resources to help candidates develop those skills, and low-cost certifications and free job-seeking tools to help candidates pursue new jobs.


The announcement is in repsonse to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has led to soaring unemployment rates and kick started an economic crisis.


Among the resources being used are data on jobs and skills from the LinkedIn Economic Graph, free access to LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn and the GitHub Learning Lab, and Microsoft Certifications and LinkedIn job seeking tools. The resources are available in English, French, German and Spanish.

"Around the world, 2020 has emerged as one of the most challenging years in many of our lifetimes. In six months, the world has endured multiple challenges, including a pandemic that has spurred a global economic crisis. As societies reopen, it's apparent that the economy in July will not be what it was in January," said Microsoft president Brad Smith.

“Increasingly, one of the key steps needed to foster a safe and successful economic recovery is expanded access to the digital skills needed to fill new jobs. And one of the keys to a genuinely inclusive recovery are programs to provide easier access to digital skills for people hardest hit by job losses, including those with lower incomes, women, and underrepresented minorities.”


Microsoft is also providing $20 million (€17.7 million) in cash grants for non-profit organisations worldwide, with $5 million of that set aside for community-based nonprofit organisations led by and serving communities of colour in the United States.

A new learning app is also on the cards for Microsoft Teams, which will help employers skill and upskill new and current employees as people return to work or new jobs are added.

"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," said Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella.

“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.”

Mr Smith said employers needed to play a bigger role in helping employees to develop new skills. “As an employer ourselves, we will make new training commitments to our employees. And we will help empower our customers so they can better meet the needs of their own employees.”

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist