New Delhi, Jun 30 (PTI) Microsoft Corp on Tuesday announced a new global skills initiative aimed at bringing more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year.

The announcement comes in response to the global economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Expanded access to digital skills is an important step in accelerating economic recovery, especially for the people hardest hit by job losses, the company said in a blog post.

"COVID-19 has created both public health as well as an economic crisis. As we move from the initial emergency response phase to the recovery phase to the reimagine phase, determining what should be rebuilt, what should be redefined, we need to ensure that no one is left behind, and address the needs of those most impacted by this crisis," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a webcast.

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He added that it's been forecasted 800 million people need to learn new skills for their jobs by 2030.

"COVID-19 has made the skills gap even more acute. It's exacerbating economic inequity. People of colour, people with disabilities, women, early in career workers in those who have less formal education are bearing the brunt of this unemployment crisis. For those who still have jobs, it's changing not only how they work, but what they work on," Nadella said.

He added that every job will increasingly require digital skills, and in the next five years, nearly 149 million new tech jobs will be created in fields like software development, cybersecurity and machine learning.

"Talent is everywhere, but the opportunities are not. Over and over again, we see that when people have access to education and skilling they create new economic opportunity for themselves, as well as their communities," he said.

The new initiative includes immediate steps to help those looking to reskill and pursue an in-demand job, and combines existing and new resources from LinkedIn, GitHub and Microsoft.

"Today, we're bringing together resources from Microsoft inclusive of LinkedIn and GitHub to reimagine how people learn and apply new skills — and help 25 million people facing unemployment due to COVID-19 prepare for the jobs of the future," he said.

This includes the use of data to identify in-demand jobs and the skills needed to fill them, free access to learning paths and content to help people develop the skills these positions require, and low-cost certifications and free job-seeking tools to help people who develop these skills pursue new jobs, Microsoft said.

In addition, Microsoft is backing the effort with USD 20 million in cash grants to help non-profit organisations worldwide assist the people who need it most.

The company is also pledging to make stronger data and analytics — including data from the LinkedIn Economic Graph — available to governments around the world so they can better assess local economic needs.

Microsoft said it will use its voice to advocate for public policy innovations that will advance skilling opportunities needed in the changed economy.

It also announced creating a new learning app in Microsoft Teams, designed to help employers skill and upskill new and current employees as people return to work and as the economy adds jobs.

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