Last year, Microsoft announced a global partnership with LinkedIn and GitHub aimed at creating greater access to digital skills and providing people with resources to assist with finding jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The partnership outlined the ambitious goal of helping 25 million people over the course of the year.
The digital skills initiative has actually surpassed that target, with Microsoft confirming that an estimated 30 million people in 249 countries have been able to acquire much needed digital skills. Locally Microsoft South Africa has been able to provide access to roughly 300 000 citizens, which is why the company has continued the initiative into 2021, targeting 250 000 jobseekers and companies throughout the rest of the year.
“The announcement builds on the company’s efforts to help people by extending through 2021 free LinkedIn Learning and Microsoft Learn courses and low-cost certifications that align to 10 of the most in-demand jobs. The next stage of the initiative sets a new foundation for a skills-based economy through a suite of new tools and platforms designed to connect skilled job seekers with employers,” explains a press release sent to Hypertext about the initiative’s extension.
“Extending access to these learning paths, skills and tools comes at a critical time for South Africa: a declining economy and unemployment remain a mounting and widespread challenge in the country,” adds Lillian Barnard, MD at Microsoft South Africa.
The local arm of Microsoft adds that along with the 300 000 engaged learners reached, strategic partnerships with non-profits like Afrika Tikkun as part of the initiative have also yielded success. In October last year for example, Microsoft South Africa provided a $150 000 (over R2.5 million) grant to the youth development NPO to assist with its goals and targets.
Microsoft is also strengthening its partnership with LinkedIn, making AI and data-driven tools like a Career Coach and Microsoft Teams for Education app available to those who need it. The two tools in particular will provide personalised guidance for higher education students to navigate their career journey. according to Microsoft.
Moving forward, a new online service, Career Connector, has been announced too. It will provide 50 000 job seekers with the opportunity to secure a tech-enabled job over the next three years, focusing on learners who have built skills via Microsoft’s non-profit and learning partners.
“It is becoming ever more critical to reimagine how people learn and apply new skills that will equip them for the workplace of the future – and it is a priority for Microsoft to create opportunities that will enable and empower unemployed South Africans by providing them with the relevant digital skills needed to secure future-ready jobs,” concludes Barnard.
To find out more about the skills initiative, its tools and insights, head here.