Microsoft to help 25 million people worldwide acquire new digital skills needed for the COVID-19 economy

Microsoft recently announced a new global skills initiative aimed at bringing more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year.

The announcement comes in response to the global economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, the pandemic has put close to 75 million people out of work.

With a labor force of close to 8.9 million, the unemployment rate in Sri Lanka increased to 5.7 percent in the first quarter of 2020 from 4.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 (CEIC). Expanded access to digital skills is an important step in accelerating economic recovery, especially for the people hardest hit by job losses.

“COVID-19 has created both public health as well as an economic crisis,” said Hasitha Abeywardena, Country Manager, Microsoft Sri Lanka and Maldives. “As we move from the initial emergency response phase to the recovery phase to the reimagine phase, determining what should be rebuilt, what should be redefined, we need to ensure that no one is left behind, and address the needs of those most impacted by this crisis.”

This initiative includes immediate steps to help those looking to reskill and pursue an in-demand job and brings together every part of the company, combining existing and new resources from LinkedIn, GitHub and Microsoft.

“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,” he said.

Connecting skills to opportunities. Providing low-cost access to industry-recognized certifications through the end of the year and free access to powerful job-seeker tools that will help people get hired once they have the skills and certifications.

These resources can be accessed at a central location, opportunity.linkedin.com, and will be broadly available online in four languages: English, French, German and Spanish.

Microsoft is backing the effort with cash grants to help nonprofit organizations worldwide assist those who need it most, including people with lower income, lower educational attainment and underrepresented minorities.

Recently, Microsoft and Sarvodaya-Fusion saw to the training of 200 Ministry of Youth trainers and Microsoft Innovative Education Experts in Sri Lanka. The partnership will see 150 youth participate in the Hour of Code and Make What’s Next campaign events.

The company is also pledging to make stronger data and analytics—including data from the LinkedIn Economic Graph—available to governments around the world so they can better assess local economic needs.

Microsoft will use its voice to advocate for public policy innovations that will advance skilling opportunities needed in the changed economy.

Later this year, Microsoft will preview a new learning app in Microsoft Teams designed to help employers skill and upskill new and current employees as people return to work and as the economy adds jobs. 

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