Microsoft will upskill millions of workers for a post-pandemic future

"We need to ensure that no one is left behind and address the needs of those most impacted by this crisis," says Satya Nadella

Microsoft has put forward an ambitious set of initiatives to reskill 25 million global workers for a post-pandemic future. 

The firm's CEO, Satya Nadella, announced learning programs and support systems across Microsoft, GitHub and LinkedIn, as well as a new upskilling app for Microsoft Teams. 

Nadella said that the impact of COVID-19 had made the skills gap "even more acute" and that the brunt of it was felt by the disabled, those with less formal education, people of colour, and women. He added that "talent is everywhere, but the opportunity is not".

"COVID-19 has created both public health, as well as an economic crisis," he said. "As we move from the initial emergency response phase to the recovery phase to the reimagined 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. 

"It has been forecast that 800 million people need to learn new skills for their jobs by 2030. COVID-19 has made the skills gap even more acute. It is exacerbating economic inequality. People of colour, people with disabilities, women, early in career workers and those with less formal education are bearing the brunt of this unemployment crisis."

Microsoft's plans come in a three-pillared approach, starting with data from LinkedIn which Nadella called "a digital representation of the global economy". The function will identify the ten most in-demand tech jobs, such as IT technician, data analyst or customer service specialist. 

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There will also be a service to match people's skills to the right jobs with Microsoft providing access to low-cost certification and free job-seeking tools. The tech giant will also partner with non-profit organisations to provide additional support for those who need it most, such as people of colour and those with low income. 

The final announcement was a new Microsoft Teams app to help organisations provide continuous learning and upskilling for their teams, which is due later this year. The app will pull together content from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, third party training providers and a company's own learning content to make it all available in a place where employees can easily learn in the flow of their work.

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