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Microsoft offers free digital-skills training amid COVID-19 jobs crisis

A new effort looks to help unemployed workers gain needed skills for in-demand digital positions.

Microsoft plans to offer free access to educational content on LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn and GitHub Learning Lab. 
Angela Lang/CNET
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

Microsoft launched an initiative Tuesday aimed at offering digital-skills training to 25 million people around the world by the end of 2020. As part of the initiative, the company will be providing free access to educational content on LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn and GitHub Learning Lab. 

"In six months, the world has endured multiple challenges, including a pandemic that has spurred a global economic crisis,'' Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a blog post. "As societies reopen, it's apparent that the economy in July will not be what it was in January." 

Over 42 million people, about a fourth of American workers, have reportedly filed for unemployment in the past two months. A survey from the Economic Policy Institute in April estimated that figure is lower than the true number of Americans out of work, saying that more people could've filed if unemployment processes were easier.

"One of the key steps needed to foster a safe and successful economic recovery is expanded access to the digital skills needed to fill new jobs," said Smith.

The initiative will work to identify in-demand jobs and provide access to free digital training and low-cost certifications to help people develop skills required for those positions, Microsoft said. 

The company said it'll also pledge $20 million in grants to nonprofit organizations around the world helping those affected by COVID-19. A fourth of the grants will be given to US-based nonprofits that are led by and serve communities of color.