Microsoft’s next step in its global skills initiative is to help 250,000 companies make a skills-based hire in 2021 together with LinkedIn. 

The company launched its global skills initiative last summer and has since helped over 30 million people learn new digital skills. 

“A new generation of 21st century infrastructure calls for new investments that will broaden access to the digital devices and broadband connectivity that have become the lifeblood of commerce, healthcare and education. And it similarly calls for a renewed commitment to the education and skills that a new generation of technology has made essential for people’s personal progress,” Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft said. 

Microsoft said that there are new challenges to meet this goal with a more diverse workforce that now confronts a wider array of educational needs and opportunities. Many industries require that people fill gaps in their current skill sets, which requires employers and employees to become better at identifying those necessary skills. 

People also want to learn new skills as 30.7 million people in 249 countries and territories took advantage of the free access on LinkedIn Learning to more than 500 courses that teach skills for in-demand roles. 

Also, people are good at identifying the right skills that are needed for most in-demand jobs including the extensive uptake in courses that address horizontal skills including the three most popular LinkedIn Learning pathways for critical soft skills: diversity, inclusion and belonging; and digital transformation. 

LinkedIn announced that it is working on a widely accepted skills taxonomy in the LinkedIn Skills Graph to create a common skills language for individuals, employers, educational institutions and government agencies.

LinkedIn will pull data from its Economic Graph to help people identify skills that map to in-demand jobs of potential interest. It also will extend to the end of 2021 the free course offerings from the skilling initiative on LinkedIn Learning. 

The new Skills Path will bring together LinkedIn Learning courses with Skill Assessments to help recruiters source candidates based on their proven skills. 

Microsoft is also encouraging young students to get involved with these digital skills by launching a Minecraft: Education Edition, a beginner skillmap in Microsoft MakeCode and a new  Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles with Microsoft MakeCode curriculum using MakeCode Arcade for high school students.

Microsoft said it is also strengthening its work in Microsoft Philanthropies to advance digital equity through nonprofit partnerships that serve those hit the hardest by the COVID-19 downturn, including Black and African American communities in the United States, according to a blog post that contains additional details about all of the new initiatives from Microsoft and LinkedIn.