By Taylor Dunn and Sean Sanders, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Nearly one year after Microsoft launched a global skills initiative aimed at helping people acquire the digital skills needed in a COVID-19 economy, the company — together with LinkedIn — is extending its commitment to help job seekers in 2021.
Microsoft said it will work to help 250,000 companies like Gap and TaskRabbit make hires based on skills over qualifications.
In a blog post written by Microsoft president Brad Smith, the next steps of its global skills initiative is part of its “vision of what is needed for a more inclusive post-pandemic recovery.”
“COVID-19 has led to record unemployment numbers, disrupting livelihoods of people around the world,” Smith said. “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.”
The focus on skills over qualifications opens the doors for both employers and job seekers, according to LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher. For employers, Fisher told Good Morning America that skills-based hiring introduces them to more candidates.
“If you look at food servers, they actually have about 71% of the skills needed for customer service,” Fisher said. “So when companies are looking to hire and we hear this all the time for the company, the industries that are hiring like crazy, they can’t find enough people. It’s because they’ve been looking the wrong way … It’s really looking at the skills as opposed to education or the network, more of those traditional ways of seeking out candidates.”
And for people looking to switch career paths or apply for jobs in a different industry, this method is also beneficial because candidates are able to show off what they can contribute to that job, Fisher said.
“The good news is it’s not about the experience, it’s about the skills that you have,” Fisher said. “The first thing you want to do is take inventory of all the skills that you have. Look at those job descriptions of the roles that seem interesting to you in those industries and do an assessment and the job description is going to give you some clues.”
To help reach the goals of its initiative, Microsoft is providing an extension to its current course curriculum through programs for K-12 students as well as higher education students aimed at helping them discover and guide their career paths.
For example, Career Coach — which is available in May — will help higher education students navigate their career journey by identifying career goals aligned with their interests and strengths.
Courses that were made available last year through Microsoft’s global skills initiative have worked for many already, including Rachelle Katchenago, a mom of two who gained new certifications through free online courses on LinkedIn. She said she was able to complete them all on her own time.
“I would log into my LinkedIn Learning, press play on a video while drinking my coffee,” Katchenago told GMA. “Even the quizzes in between each video to gain that certificate was only two to three questions, which I found really not even intimidating.”
Through the courses she took, Katchenago was able to land a full-time job as a customer service representative.
“It’s great to know that there’s programs out there like the generator upskilling and the Global Initiative to make sure that people like me can transition and we can live these lives that we dream of, that we worked so hard for the stability and to be able to provide for our family,” she added.
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