Microsoft recently announced it has helped over 30 million people in 249 countries and territories gain access to digital skills. This number exceeds its initial goal of 25 million last June, and is extending the company’s commitment to help 250,000 companies hire skilled labor.

Since last year, millions of people turned to online learning courses from GitHub, LinkedIn, and Microsoft during the pandemic to help prepare for and secure the most in-demand jobs. The announcement builds on the company’s efforts to help people by extending through 2021 free LinkedIn Learning and Microsoft Learn courses and low-cost certifications.

The next stage of the initiative sets a new foundation for a skills-based economy through a suite of new tools and platforms designed to connect skilled job seekers with employers.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen the pandemic hit people who can bear it the least. We are doubling down at LinkedIn and across Microsoft with new work to support a more inclusive skills-based labor market, creating more alternatives, greater flexibility, and accessible learning paths that connect these more readily with new jobs,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith.

Kendi Ntwiga, Country Manager at Microsoft Kenya, expressed the imbalance between the demands of the labour market and the supply of appropriately skilled job seekers in Kenya. “It is important that the young generation in-country acquire the skills and training to help them thrive. It really is fantastic news that the Global Skilling Initiative (GSI) has reached 30 million people worldwide. In Kenya, a total of over 76,000 learners have been engaged to date,” he said.

In Kenya, Microsoft has been working with Tech4Dev and the Women Techsters Initiative to train 5 million girls and women across Africa in coding and deep tech skills by 2030. In February, the company also partnered with the Stanbic Bank Foundation in Kenya, signing an MoU with the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade, and Enterprise Development. The MoU was aimed at enhancing the employability of citizens through digital upskilling.

LinkedIn plans to help 250,000 companies make skills-based hires this year through new and existing hiring products.

The company will provide both new ways for job seekers to demonstrate their skills and new tools for employers to connect to candidates in the following ways

  • The pilot of LinkedIn Skills Path, a new way to help companies hire for skills.
  • New expressive, inclusive, and personalized LinkedIn profile features will help people share more about themselves, their career, and goals in a more authentic and engaging way.
  • Expanded access to LinkedIn’s Skills Graph will help create a common skills language for individuals, employers, educational institutions, and government agencies to help improve workforce planning, hiring and development programs.

“For a long time, the way people got hired was based solely on the job they had, the degree they earned or the people they knew. That’s starting to change. Workers are now better understanding and articulating the skills they have and the skills they need while businesses are looking not just at those familiar credentials but also at the skills that workers from often- overlooked communities have to get the job done. We want to help accelerate that change,” said Ryan Roslansky, LinkedIn CEO.

As part of the initiative, Microsoft has worked closely with its nonprofit partners to help provide wrap-around support with coaching, mentoring, and networking to nearly 6 million learners.