Kathy Gibson reports – Microsoft has launched a new online learning ecosystem to help 25-million people upskill and reskill themselves, achieve certification for in-demand skills, and find jobs.

It has been estimated that, around the world, the current pandemic will see more people unemployed than at any time since the great depression, with up to a quarter of a million people expected to lose their jobs.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella points out that Covid-19 has created a public health and economic crisis. “As we move to the recovery and reimagine phase of the pandemic, we need to ensure that no-one is left behind and that we address the needs of those most impacted by the crisis.

“Everywhere we look we see new ingenuity and drive, as people work to keep economies functioning. People are hungry to learn, to grow, and to learn new skills.”

He points out that earlier survey indicated that 800-million people would need to learn new skills by 2030. “Covid-19 has accelerated the skills gap. And, for those who still have jobs, it is changing what they do and what they work on.”

While millions are losing their jobs during the pandemic, Nadella says the solution lies in gaining new skills.

“Over and over we see that when people have access to education and skilling they create new opportunities.”

Over the last few months, more people than ever before have turned to the Microsoft learning tools to acquire new skills.

“Microsoft Learn enables anyone to learn,” Nadella explains. “LinkedIn Learning offers thousands of online courses; and GITHub Learning Lab offers hundreds of tutorials for developers and aspiring developer.

“We are bringing all of these assets together to help people to acquire new skills.”

The new ecosystem starts with data gathered to identify the top 10 most in-demand jobs, and the creation of free learning content for these roles.

The next pillar is matching people’s skills to the right jobs, including access to the right certification and to job-seeking sites.

Acquiring new skills doesn’t stop when a job-seeker lands a job, though, Nadella points out. “Companies require a system of learning, a continuous feedback loop to success at the task at hand.” To this end, a new Microsoft Teams app will help companies upskill employees in the context of the day-to-day work.

“We believe we can make progress in closing the skills gap,” Nadella concludes.

Microsoft president Brad Smith adds that the current crisis has been thrown into focus by the pandemic but is also the result of long-term trends.

“Automation has been eliminating manual work and replacing them with jobs that are more digitally-focused,” he says. “We estimate that by the middle of this decade we will see the creation of 149-million new technology jobs.”

Over the last decade, however, employers have invested less then ever in employee training, and this has exacerbated the requirement for new approaches to skills training.