Helping 10 Million Learners and Counting

September 30, 2020

Six months ago, we found ourselves facing a global pandemic that threatened to take thousands of lives and majorly disrupt our global economy. And in a short period of time, many of those fears became reality and continue to impact the lives and jobs of millions around the world. 

We realized quickly that we were in a unique position to help those looking for a job. And in June we came together across the Microsoft ecosystem to launch an ambitious global skills initiative designed to help 25 million people worldwide acquire needed digital skills by the end of 2020. 

Our number one goal was -- and still is -- to help those who became unemployed or under-employed due to the pandemic, get the skills they need to find and land their next job. With a quarter of a billion people suddenly without a job, setting up the unemployed with the skills and tools they need became our top priority. 

Today, I’m excited to share an update on the program’s progress. And the news is good! As part of the initiative, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and GitHub have collectively reached more than 10 million learners around the globe.

People from 231 countries and territories, and all 50 states have tapped into our program at since we launched in June. We’re seeing huge numbers of people from the U.S., India, UK, France and Canada learning every day, with some of the most popular courses being for roles in software development, customer service and data analysts. And to further extend the reach of our offering and help groups hardest hit by job loss, we’re continuing to expand our work with nonprofits and local organizations around the globe, including Black- and African American-led nonprofits, Goodwill, Afrika Tikkun in Africa, ReDI in Germany, ITPH Academy in the Netherlands, the Department for Education in the UK, and Singapore Government agencies.       

Our Continued Commitment to Help Job Seekers

With the LinkedIn Economic Graph, we’re able to digitally map over 706M professionals, 55M companies, 11M job listings, 36K skills, and 90k schools on LinkedIn, and use that data to spot trends like in-demand skills, emerging jobs, and global hiring patterns. 

We used our Economic Graph to identify 10 jobs that are in-demand in today’s economy and well positioned to continue to grow in the future. We were able to filter for jobs that can be obtained without a 4 year degree, those that pay a livable wage, and those that can be successfully reskilled for online. And to help those looking for a new opportunity, we made LinkedIn Learning Paths aligned with these jobs available to everyone for free. During the first three months, we’ve seen that interest in developing skills for Software Developer, Customer Service, and Data Analysts roles have been in the highest demand.  

As for ‘soft skills’, these three learning paths have been the most popular around the globe: 

  1. Master In-Demand Professional Soft Skills: on developing resilience, building your emotional intelligence, and embracing unexpected changes,

  2. Diversity Inclusion and Belonging for All: to learn skills on confronting bias, communicating across cultures, and skills for inclusive conversations,

  3. Finding a Job During Challenging Economic Times: to learn skills on recovering from a layoff, digital body language, and recession-proof career strategies.

As a part of our initiative, we have also started activating local efforts across the globe to leverage our resources. For example, we launched gener8tor Upskilling, a free skills training program that runs in several states. The five-week program is helping unemployed and under-employed individuals get skills and credentials to get them back to work. 

One gener8tor in Wisconsin had nearly 200 people apply for the program focused on customer service and sales career course pathways. Participants received interview coaching, resume and cover letter writing, and access to a network of peers and potential employers related to the gener8tor network. The program had a high 74% completion rate and resulted in job seekers interviewing and getting new jobs with participating companies in the network. 

We’re encouraged by the early results and the success stories we’re seeing. One learner, David Robles left a role where he did not feel his skills were being maximized two weeks before COVID-19 struck. As a Colombian immigrant, David hoped to find a new position where he could put his MBA to use in the field of global supply chain and trade compliance. With global shipping grinding to a halt, he found himself out of the workforce for much longer than expected. Desperate to find work, the gener8tor program helped Mr. Robles connect with career coaches and boost his resume with new skills. While he’s been able to land a contract role, he’s excited to expand his job search and land a role that maximizes his new skills learned.

Another great example of how we’re making our resources available around the globe is in the Netherlands where we are supporting Microsoft Philanthropy and the ITPH Academy, a Dutch charity that is helping 50,000 Dutch job seekers through access to our free learning materials. Job seekers can take self-assessments and determine which type of Microsoft Learn or LinkedIn Learning content will be most helpful to them, as well as gain access to LinkedIn Coaches sessions to help them prepare for and land their next job.  

Our Ongoing Work With Nonprofits 

As part of our $20 million in financial grants to nonprofit organizations around the world that we announced together with our global skills initiative, Microsoft recently launched an open-application grant program for Black- and African American-led nonprofits to further help groups hardest hit by job loss. With the goal of increasing skills development and economic opportunities, we’ll provide 50 nonprofits with up to $100K/year for three years coupled with leadership development and technology enablement support. 

We’ve been thrilled to see how different nonprofits have utilized the grants in various ways to help those that need support the most. Nonprofits like Goodwill and Upwardly Global in the United States, Afrika Tikkun in South Africa, and ReDI in Germany have already made a huge impact with their work. 

Using their grant and the tools available at, Afrika Tikkun committed to driving 50,000 engaged learners, 14,500 completed learning paths, 500 Microsoft certifications, and 500 individuals placed in jobs. It’s this type of commitment that drives change and we’re ecstatic to see this type of thinking and execution happen in South Africa and around the world. 

The Last Mile: Helping Job Seekers Land the Job

Using our free tools to learn is the most important part of this initiative, but once someone learns a new skill, promoting it to the millions of recruiters and hiring managers searching for talent on Linkedin comes in at a close second. 

  • #OpenToWork: We recently launched a new feature called “Open to Work”, that harnesses the power of the LinkedIn community to help the large unemployed population. Since it’s release, more than 2 million people have used the simple green profile photo frame which resulted in those members receiving 40% more recruiter InMails and 20% more messages from their community. 

  • Interview Prep: When a job seeker gets to that interview phase, we want to help them demonstrate their skills through effective interviewing. So we are offering free interview prep tools, including a feature leveraging Microsoft-AI for real-time feedback on your answers. Feedback on things like speech patterns, filler words you may use and some tips to improve generic answers.

We are also extending our free learning resources and the benefits of our #OpenToWork feature in all of our LinkedIn Coaches sessions run by our team and volunteer leads. For example, over the last 3 months alone we reached 3k+ job seekers including retrenched workers in Singapore, refugees in the United States and adults struggling with long-term unemployment in Dublin.

It’s been incredible to watch this ambitious initiative take flight across the globe. And we’re just getting started! I look forward to sharing more success stories and updates on our continued commitments to help many more people get access to resources to build their skills in the coming months. 

And if you haven’t been to yet, check it out. The learning paths will be available at no cost through the end of March 2021, with updated or revised content to be added as needed, and are available in English, French, German, Spanish, and coming soon in Japanese. There’s never been a better time to invest in yourself and learn new skills.