There's no doubt that COVID-19 is still spreading around the world. Even with limited or phased reopening plans now going into effect in some countries and states, the jobs, businesses, schools, and life as we know it, are shaping up to be different due to the impacts of social distancing and the virus.
As a result, Microsoft has announced a new global skills initiative. Aimed at bringing more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year, the initiative includes a new Microsoft Teams learning app and will cover three specific goals.
According to Microsoft President Brad Smith, the initiative brings together all kinds of Microsoft resources. That includes LinkedIn, GitHub, and more. For goal one, Microsoft is aiming to use data to identify in-demand jobs and the skills needed to fill them. As part of the second goal, the company also hopes to provide free access to learning paths and content to help people develop the skills they need for it. Finally, Microsoft is seeking to offer low-cost certifications and free job-seeking tools. These tools are launching today as part of the digital skills initiative.
- Data and analytics to better understand in-demand skills and jobs: Linkedin will share free real-time labor market data and skills insights.
- Free access to learning paths and comprehensive resources to help people develop the skills needed for in-demand jobs: LinkedIn Learning paths will be free to the end of March 2021. Microsoft is also enabling job seekers pursuing developer roles to access the GitHub Learning Lab to practice their skills.
- Connecting skills to opportunities through industry recognized certifications and powerful job seeker tools: Microsoft will offer low-cost access to industry-recognized Microsoft Certifications based on exams that demonstrate proficiency in Microsoft technologies.
In addition, to support the broader parts of this vision, Microsoft believes in providing what it calls a "connected system of learning." This is because many Microsoft customers have found that the learning experience for their employees is highly fragmented.
The fruits of this will be a new learning app in Microsoft Teams. According to Microsoft, the Teams Learning app will "allow employers to integrate world-class content from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, a customer’s own content, and other content providers all in one place." According to ZDNet, the app will roll out in preview and will become generally available later this calendar year. It builds on the chat and other existing functionalities of Teams.
Microsoft's blog post also covers some other topics, showing the statistics behind unemployment, how it impacts women, and which types of jobs are more at risk. The blog even looks at how the Coronavirus lockdown accelerated digitization and the specifics of how Microsoft hopes to put its plans into effect.