The global pandemic has highlighted long-standing economic and social disparities faced by minorities and unemployed and underemployed people. At the same time, businesses and economies around the world were already facing a persistent technology skills gap, where high-paying jobs require knowledge and abilities that many workers lack. Reskilling workers is essential to address these inequalities and close this gap.
By supporting training and skills programs, companies can help create economic mobility and career pathways for underserved communities in the United States and around the world, while strengthening and diversifying their own workforces and productivity, and supporting more inclusive economic growth.
Companies like HP, Microsoft, and JPMorgan Chase foster digital learning initiatives to help workers learn new skills and open up entrepreneurial avenues that were previously shut to them — from laid-off hospitality workers in the United States to women starting businesses in Mexico and teachers at refugee camps in Jordan.
“We are committed to enabling better learning outcomes for 100 million people by 2025,” says Michele Malejki, global head of Social Impact at HP.
Jennie Sparandara, head of Workforce Initiatives at JPMorgan Chase, says her company has long been focused on issues of equity, but that the COVID health crisis and protests over racial and social justice and police brutality have brought these issues to the forefront.
“We recognize that there’s a lot of talent that’s being overlooked and that there are incredible disparities in the labor market along racial and gender lines,” says Sparandara. “We are working to target solutions and focus on how reskilling and upskilling can be important elements of that solution set.”
Building a movement from a trend
Microsoft estimates that, over the next five years, the global workforce can absorb around 149 million new technology-oriented jobs. By the end of 2020, the company’s Global Skills Initiative seeks to equip 25 million people with the digital skills and knowledge to fill these jobs.
“Microsoft’s philanthropy has long focused on skills, the future of work, our responsibility as a technology company, and how we can help those potentially left behind,” says Naria Santa Lucia, general manager of Digital Inclusion and US Community Engagement at Microsoft Philanthropies.