by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG – ABOUT 300 000 people in South Africa have acquired digital skills during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
They are among over 30 million people in 249 countries and territories to acquire the skills offered by the Microsoft Corporation.
The international technology company exceeded its initial goal of 25 million last June.
Beneficiaries include laid-off factory workers to retail associates and truck drivers as millions of people turned to online learning courses from GitHub, LinkedIn and Microsoft during the pandemic.
This was to help prepare for and secure the most in-demand roles, including customer service, project management and data analysis.
Hence, Microsoft is extending its commitment by launching new resources to help job-seekers and 250 000 companies make a skills-based hire in 2021.
The next stage of the initiative sets a new foundation for a skills-based economy through a suite of new tools and platforms designed to connect skilled job seekers with employers.
“Extending access to these learning paths, skills and tools comes at a critical time for South Africa: a declining economy and unemployment remain a mounting and widespread challenge in the country,” says Lillian Barnard, Managing Director at Microsoft South Africa.
South Africa’s economy declined by 7 percent in 2020.
Unemployment also increased to 32,5 percent, with the number of unemployed rising from 6,5 million in the third quarter of the year to 7,2 million in the fourth quarter.
Barnard said this illustrated the critical need to accelerate economic recovery, especially for those hardest hit by the impact of the pandemic.
“Digital skills are the most effective way to drive this recovery because of the growing shift to digital technologies and increasing demand for people with digital skills.”
In addition to the nearly 300 000 engaged learners reached in October last year, Microsoft South Africa provided a $150 000 (over R2,5 million) grant to the youth development non-profit organisation.
Ryan Roslansky, LinkedIn Chief Executive Officer, said since last June, Microsoft and LinkedIn helped more than 30 million people worldwide gain access to digital skills.
“Today we’re extending our commitment to skills by helping 250 000 companies make a skills-based hire in 2021,” Roslansky said.
– CAJ News