At the end of June, Microsoft announced a collaborative initiative with LinkedIn and Github to assist 25 million people across the globe get access to digital skills training, with the aim of later helping to find employment for in-demand jobs or ready themselves for changing requirements in their given industry.

At the time of announcement it was unclear how South Africans could get involved, as well as how this initiative would be carried out, but now Microsoft SA has offered more clarity.

This came in the form of a webinar in which the dire need for skills development in the country was looked at, and followed by how the global skills from Microsoft was working to that end.

“Expanded access to digital skills is an important step in accelerating economic recovery, especially for the people hardest hit by job losses. There was already a shift to digital technologies and increasing demand for people with digital skills even before the pandemic struck, but it has accelerated the need for these types of skills,” explained Siya Madyibi, Legal and Corporate Affairs director at Microsoft South Africa.

As Microsoft has outlined, there are three aspects to this initiative, with data on the most in-demand jobs appearing via LinkedIn. From there, South Africans will be able to freely access (data costs still apply) courses and training, as well as receive certification in some instances. The final component will be connecting job seekers with those hiring.

This, however, is only one part of the initiative, with Microsoft SA fully aware of the challenges facing jobseekers or those wanting to develop necessary skills. Here the company is looking to leverage its partners in order to help those struggling locally.

“While these resources are broadly available online to South Africans, vulnerable job seekers from poorer and more remote areas will need additional support on their journey. This is why Microsoft is backing the effort by partnering with strategic long-term partner non-profits like Afrika Tikkun to drive the programme and assist the people who need it most,” Microsoft points out in a press release sent to Hypertext.

“Microsoft is also partnering with corporate companies and customers, who have committed to make training labs with connectivity available to jobseekers, co-fund some Microsoft certifications and market the programme on their social media channels to raise awareness,” the company adds.

As more South Africans look to address their skills deficiencies during the COVID-19 era, the ability to make digital solutions as freely available as possible will prove crucial.

“Our goal is to combine the best in technology with stronger partnerships with organisations like LinkedIn, GitHub and Afrika Tikkun to help empower people to develop the skills needed to secure a new job,” says Madyibi.

“We are, for instance, encouraged by our learning partners who are offering access to their classroom facilities and devices for unemployed people to book training and use the facilities at no cost, and are excited to continue collaborating with partners to provide expanded access to digital skills,” he concludes.

To find out more about the digital skills initiative, visit the Microsoft microsite here.