Earlier this evening Microsoft held a live streamed webcast where the company announced a new initiative in collaboration with LinkedIn and GitHub to tackle the lack of skills development plaguing many countries and industries at the moment, and in particular help those wanting to find employment for the most in-demand digital jobs.

The initiative has outlined the ambitious goal of assisting 25 million people across the globe in identifying digital jobs in their region, as well as create access to the necessary skill development tools required.

“COVID-19 has created both a public health and an economic crisis, and as the world recovers, we need to ensure no one is left behind,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

“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 added.

Microsoft adds that this is one of three similar initiatives that the company is planning in 2020. This first one, today’s announcement, is focused on individual job seekers. This will then be followed by making the tools available later in the year, and finally creating access for students through the help of partners before the year’s end.

LinkedIn is hosting the portal that will feature most of the tools designed for use by those looking for in-demand digital jobs at Opportunity.LinkedIn.com.

As Microsoft explains, the portal will make the following freely available to users:

  • “The use of data to identify in-demand jobs and the skills needed to fill them.
  • Free access to learning paths and content to help people develop the skills these positions require.
  • Low-cost certifications and free job-seeking tools to help people who develop these skills pursue new jobs.”

These resources will also be made available in English, French, German or Spanish.

In addition, Microsoft says it is backing the effort with $20 million in cash grants to help non-profit organisations worldwide assist the people who need it most. It explains that $5 million of that total will be provided in cash grants to community-based non-profit organisations that are led by and serve communities of colour in the United States.

How the remainder will disbursed throughout the rest of the globe remains to be seen. There are also a few other moving parts to this initiative that still need to be confirmed, particularly from a local perspective.

In that regard Microsoft South Africa says more news is forthcoming and should be shared in the coming weeks. As such it will be interesting to hear what is being developed and how South Africans will be able to access it.

With skills development, specifically when it comes to digital jobs, being a key priority for government, we’re hoping that there is close collaboration between it and Microsoft.