At the end of June, Microsoft introduced a global skills initiative to provide meaningful help to millions of job seekers by the end of 2020.
The focus of the job initiative was to better understand what skills are most in demand, provide free access to learning those skills and finally offer industry recognized certifications at a nominal cost.
Why would Microsoft, or any corporation, launch such an effort? Well, even if point number three (Microsoft certifications) is slightly self-serving, we really don’t mind. Kudos to Microsoft for helping us better understand what jobs and skills are most in demand and offering free training modules to learn those skills.
Here’s an overview:
Data and analytics to better understand in-demand skills and jobs
Several years ago, LinkedIn operationalized the world’s first Economic Graph to track workforce trends and provide a window into emerging skills gaps. The Economic Graph is a digital representation of the global economy based on more than 690 million professionals, 50 million companies, 11 million job listings, 36,000 defined skills, and 90,000 schools. In short, it is all the data on LinkedIn and shows available jobs, their required skills, and the existing skills job seekers have.
The Economic Graph also makes it possible to spot in-demand skills, emerging jobs, and global hiring rates. These insights help connect LinkedIn members to better opportunities and assist governments and organizations as they create economic opportunity for the global workforce.
As part of this new initiative, LinkedIn is sharing free, real-time labor market data and skills insights to help governments, policymakers and business leaders understand what’s happening in their local labor markets: what companies are hiring, the top jobs companies are hiring for and the trending skills for those jobs. This data can be accessed using a new interactive tool at linkedin.com/workforce. Data is available for more than 180 countries and regions (150+ cities, 30+ countries). Users can search by country or region and download the data sets.
We have also used the Economic Graph as a critical planning resource for today’s skills initiative, by identifying the key jobs and horizontal skills that are most widely in demand and creating learning paths for these via LinkedIn Learning. Using this data, we identified 10 jobs that are in-demand in today’s economy and are well positioned to continue to grow in the future. These 10 jobs were identified as having the greatest number of job openings, have had steady growth over the past four years, pay a livable wage, and require skills that can be learned online.
- Become a Software Developer
- Become a Sales Representative
- Become a Project Manager
- Become an IT administrator (Prepare for CompTIA Network+ Certification)
- Become a Customer Service Specialist
- Become a Digital Marketing Specialist
- Become IT Support / Help Desk (Prepare for the CompTIA A+ Certification)
- Become a Data Analyst
- Become a Financial Analyst
- Become a Graphic Designer
Much of our skills work is targeted at providing people with the skills for these disciplines.
Free access to learning paths and comprehensive resources to help people develop the skills needed for in-demand jobs
To help people pursue jobs in these areas, we are making LinkedIn Learning paths aligned with each of these roles available free of charge through the end of March 2021. Each learning path includes a sequence of video content designed to help job seekers develop the core skills needed for each role. Each learning path is currently available in English, French, Spanish, and German.
LinkedIn Learning’s library for each learning path also includes collaborative courses, all taught by industry-expert instructors, allowing individuals to move through content and demonstrate their learning with a certificate of completion. Covering a broad range of skills from entry-level digital literacy to advanced product-based skills for technology roles, these role-based learning paths provide numerous opportunities for people along a learning continuum to reskill and upskill. We believe these are the types of resources that can place in-demand roles within reach of millions of job seekers.
In addition to these LinkedIn Learning paths, we are offering through Microsoft Learn free and in-depth technical learning content that also supports these roles. For roles that are more technical in nature, job seekers can go deeper on specific role-based Microsoft technologies with Microsoft Learn modules, gaining the most in-demand skills on widely used technologies.
We will also enable job seekers pursuing developer roles to access the GitHub Learning Lab to practice their skills. GitHub Learning Lab is a bot-based learning tool that uses repositories to teach technology, coding, Git, and GitHub via real-life, demo-based modules. This means that as job seekers engage in learning paths, they will have the opportunity to practice newly acquired skills by completing realistic projects in a personalized GitHub repository.
To provide people with easier access to the soft skills needed to pursue a new job, we are offering free access to four horizontal LinkedIn Learning paths. These are:
- Job seeker – Finding a Job During Challenging Economic Times
- Critical soft skills – Master In-Demand Professional Soft Skills
- Digital transformation – Digital Transformation in Practice: Virtual Collaboration Tools
- Allyship and inclusive conversations – Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging for All
Finally, we are committed to developing and making available new courses and content that will focus on the skills needed to develop, deploy, and use technology in a responsible way. We recognize that issues such as privacy, security, digital safety, and the responsible application of artificial intelligence will continue to become even more important in the months and years ahead. We are committed to leading on these issues, not only for our own technologies but in assisting others to master needed skills as well.
Connecting skills to opportunities through industry recognized certifications and powerful job seeker tools
Today’s initiative also aims to help job seekers demonstrate their skills to potential employers. This part of our initiative has multiple parts.
First, we will offer low-cost access to industry-recognized Microsoft Certifications based on exams that demonstrate proficiency in Microsoft technologies. We are making exams for these Microsoft Certifications available at a significantly discounted fee of $15 available to those who self-attest that their employment has been impacted by COVID-19. This represents a large discount on the price of exams that typically cost more than $100. We are committed to supporting the integrity of certifications by enabling proctoring safely in an online setting that is accessible from anywhere. The $15 fee will be paid to and will enable third parties to scale to meet the potential surge in examination resources and will support the integrity of the certification by enabling proctoring via a safe, online setting that is accessible from anywhere. We will also work with governments, nonprofits, foundations, and other private sector partners if they wish to absorb this third-party cost.
Participants will have the ability to schedule an exam from September to the end of the year, and exam takers will have until March 31, 2021 to complete the exam. This will provide access to the exams that provide five fundamentals certifications and eight role-based certifications. These will include:
- Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals
- Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals
- Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Fundamentals
- Microsoft Certified: Power Platform Fundamentals
- Microsoft 365 Certified: Fundamentals
- Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate
- Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate
- Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate
- Microsoft Certified: Power Platform App Maker Associate
- Microsoft 365 Certified: Teams Administrator Associate
- Microsoft 365 Certified: Security Administrator Associate
- Microsoft 365 Certified: Developer Associate
- Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate
These exams will be available initially in whole or in part in seven languages – English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Chinese (simplified), and Korean.
We have found that these certifications are a powerful asset for job seekers and those looking to advance in an existing role. For example, in Global Knowledge’s 2019 IT Skills and Salary Report, more than half of IT decision-makers surveyed believe the main benefit of certified individuals is their ability to close organizational skills gaps seen in an everchanging technology environment. It also showed certifications helped make hiring easier, helping job seekers stand out. Among other things, these certifications, as well as completion of a learning path on LinkedIn Learning, can be added to an individual’s LinkedIn profile.
We are also making available tools to help individuals identify and pursue potential jobs. This includes a recently developed job interview preparation-feature, powered by MSFT-AI, to prepare and practice for job interviews. It also includes a new feature we are announcing today called #OpenToWork, which enables job seekers to surface to employers the roles for which they would like to be considered. Through a simple LinkedIn profile photo frame, #OpenToWork enables job seekers to let employers and the LinkedIn network know they are actively seeking a new opportunity, indicate the type of job they are looking for, express their needs for support, and get help from the LinkedIn community to find new opportunities.
We believe the strength of these resources is their comprehensive nature. To help people find and navigate all of our offerings, we have made all of these resources accessible from a single location: opportunity.linkedin.com. A job seeker or anyone looking to develop these on-demand skills can start here and will be guided through the learning paths based on the roles in which they are interested.
In addition, Microsoft and LinkedIn will continue to provide on-ramps for people from nontraditional backgrounds to successfully transition from learning skills to landing a job. This will include the Microsoft Software & Systems Academy, or MSSA, which provides transitioning U.S. service members and veterans with technology skills. It also includes Leap, which Microsoft launched in 2015 to recruit, develop, upskill non-traditional talent, and create a connection to employability in the tech industry. And it includes REACH, which is a multi-year engineering apprenticeship program at LinkedIn.
Click here to see the entire digital skills initiative.