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Job Skills and Resources to Support Our Communities

There are some great free and low-cost job training opportunities out there right now, particularly compliments of Microsoft. There is the extraordinary Microsoft Global Skills Initiative that offers free employment training and certification in the 10 most in-demand and well-paid jobs. This is a key necessity for many of the members of the communities we serve.

For your own organization's benefit, Microsoft has also partnered with TechSoup to provide the Digital Skills Center on TechSoup Courses to specifically help build out nonprofit team members' technical skills to increase knowledge and productivity. This is a partnership between Microsoft and TechSoup that 36,000 TechSoup members have already taken advantage of. While we're at it, we also salute TechSoup's workforce development and job training members.

In this post, we'll go over all of these great opportunities afoot and shine a light on a handful of our members fighting the good fight in getting people back on their feet and back in the workplace.

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The Microsoft Global Skills Initiative

Here is some great news if you work with populations or just know adults who are unemployed or underemployed. There is a lot of that in these late stages of the pandemic. Microsoft has extended its free digital skills courses to offset COVID-19's economic impacts through December 31, 2021. Through its Global Skills Initiative, it is offering training and certification for the 10 most in-demand and well-paid jobs worldwide. These include software developer, project manager, IT support, and data analyst. Find the full list of 10 high-tech jobs here that have the greatest number of job openings, have had steady growth over the past four years, and pay a livable wage. With some diligence, people can acquire the skills they need online to be able to work in these areas.

The free courses are available through LinkedIn Learning and Microsoft Learn. Participants can then practice tech skills in the GitHub Learning Lab. The program also offers job seekers soft skills training help to search and apply for jobs and help in preparing for interviews. The program also offers courses to learn the latest virtual collaboration tools so people can comfortably work remotely. This is an astonishing opportunity for unemployed or underemployed people regardless of where they live. Anyone interested can get started with the program here.

Why Is Microsoft Doing This?

Microsoft's president, Brad Smith, in his blog piece Building a more inclusive skills-based economy: The next steps for our global skills initiative, describes the project as a humanitarian effort to address the record unemployment numbers disrupting livelihoods of people around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to help 250,000 companies make a skills-based hire in 2021.

Microsoft also aims to model new initiatives and more collaboration across the public and private sectors. The company also wants to strengthen its Microsoft Philanthropies work to advance digital equity through nonprofit partnerships that serve those hit the hardest by the COVID-19 downturn. Included are African American communities in the United States and many people in India through the TechSoup partner organization NASSCOM Foundation.

Microsoft originally launched the Global Skills Initiative in the summer of 2020, and in the eight months that followed, 30.7 million people in 249 countries and territories took advantage of the training opportunities. Over 9 million of them have been in the United States and Canada. Almost a hundred people participated from Antarctica! So far, the most popular training has been customer service specialist.

Microsoft's Future Plans

The company plans to launch a project called Microsoft's Career Connector. It will be a new service that in the next three years will help place 50,000 people trained by Microsoft's nonprofit and learning partners in tech-enabled jobs in the Microsoft ecosystem. Microsoft believes that digital technology and tools can play a central role in fostering a more inclusive skills-based labor market.

The nonprofits of the world will be indispensable in the front-line work needed to make digital equity a reality. We at TechSoup sincerely hope that your charity and your clients will take full advantage of the free Global Skills Initiative and the other workforce programs that Microsoft is working on.

A Salute to Our Workforce Development and Job Training Members

Of course we have hundreds of TechSoup members who work in the area of workforce development and job training. I just wish we could list them all here, but here are a few of them.

  • NCircle is a faith-based nonprofit in Olathe, Kansas, run by Lee Jost that works with formerly incarcerated people. It provides job certificate training, noncertification programs, mentors, and community opportunities. Its mission is to end the cycle of incarceration and to stabilize families.
  • Workforce Resource is run by Debra Leslie and operates workforce development programs through job centers in 19 counties of the West Central Wisconsin region. It provides an online database of current job openings, job skills workshops, and job training information and referral and job fairs. It also has frequent job clubs and a computer resource center for researching job openings and creating resumes.
  • The Technology Training Foundation of America is a San Diego–based nonprofit founded and run by the great Jeanette Roache. The organization specializes in electronics refurbishing, repair, and recycling. In the course of its work, it offers vocational students exposure to a wide variety of computer trainings with real-life troubleshooting exercises. It partners with places like the California Youth Authority and Southern California high schools.
  • Chicago CRED is a nonprofit founded by former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Its goal is to radically reduce gun violence in Chicago. Gun violence is the leading cause of death for African American men ages 15 to 34 in the city. One of the pillars of its work is job training and workforce development through tours and site visits, guest speakers, hands-on training, and paid internships. The organization has funded nearly 10,000 summer jobs since 2016 for at-risk teens.

Microsoft Training for Nonprofit Staff and Volunteers

If you need some Microsoft training for your own staff, TechSoup offers your organization a collection of powerful online courses that have great step-by-step skill-building content from experts at Microsoft. In case you're just learning about this now, it is called the Microsoft Digital Skills Center.

We feature free beginner and advanced courses on Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and also very affordable courses on the new Microsoft Teams app and Power Bl, the powerful data visualization tool. Microsoft applications have long been TechSoup's most popular donated products. Now we bring you the knowledge on how to use them!


We sincerely hope that you and your clients can take advantage of the free and very low-cost trainings we've described in this piece and also hope that you join us in celebrating the workforce development organizations that are doing such important work helping all of us come back from the pandemic.

Additional Resources

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