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Microsoft Global Skills Initiative

On the 30th of June, I attended Microsoft’s virtual conference where Microsoft President, Brad Smith, announced the launch of the Global Skills Initiative. This initiative aims to bring more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year. Their vision is ‘a connected system of learning’ that helps empower everyone to pursue lifelong learning. The Global Skills Initiative will combine existing and new resources from LinkedIn, GitHub, and Microsoft.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global economic crisis and has made 2020 the most challenging year. As societies open, it is apparent that the economy will operate differently. To achieve a successful economic recovery, digital skills will be required to fill in new jobs therefore, programmes to provide easier access to these digital skills will be needed.


According to Microsoft calculations, global unemployment in 2020 may reach a quarter of a billion people. Smith added that the pandemic has indeed widened the skills gap which needs to be closed urgently to accelerate economic recovery. The long term disconnect between supply and demand for skills in the labour market is driven by three primary factors:

· The rapid emergence of AI-powered technologies that are propelling a new era of automation

· The growing need for technological acumen to compete in a changing commercial landscape and

· The drop off in employer-based training investments over the past 2 decades.


To close these skills gap, the Global Skills initiative will be grounded on three areas of activities:

· Data and Analysis to better understand in demand skills and jobs

· Free access to learning and comprehensive resources to help people develop the skills needed for in-demand jobs

· Connecting skills to opportunities through industry recognised certifications and powerful job seeker tools.


This is a comprehensive technology initiative that will build on data and digital technology. This will begin with data on jobs and skills from the LinkedIn Economic Graph which provides free access to content in LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn and the GitHub Learning Lab. This will include Microsoft Certifications and LinkedIn job seeking tools. Additionally, Microsoft will allocate $20 million cash grants to support non-profit organizations worldwide which assist people who need this the most


Microsoft has also developed a new learning app in Microsoft Teams to help employers upskill new and existing employees. This learning app contains content from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, third-party training providers and the company’s own learning content which will be at an easily accessible place for employees to learn in the flow of their work. Furthermore, Microsoft pledged to make stronger data and analytics available to governments around the world so they can better assess local economic needs and lastly, they will use their voice to advocate for public policy innovations that will advance the skilling opportunities people will require in the changed economy.

A job seeker or anyone looking to develop these on-demand skills can access these resources from a single location: and will be guided through the learning paths based on the roles in which they are interested.


Microsoft, LinkedIn, and GitHub aim to combine the best in technology with stronger partnerships with governments and non-profits to create opportunities for individuals around the world.


Mahlatse Tolamo, Ecosystem Enabler, 22 ON SLOANE


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