Microsoft Learn Launches Ambitious Educational Initiatives with PMI and LinkedIn
Microsoft is carrying forth its stated mission to help address the global shortage of qualified, ready-to-work employees for jobs in what it calls "the digital economy." On Nov. 29, Microsoft announced a partnership with the Project Management Institute (PMI) to create a Power Platform University Hub.
On Nov. 30, it launched a program to extend its Global Skills Initiative through LinkedIn (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Microsoft since 2016), to provide free access to 350 courses, along with six new Careers Essential Certificates for such in-demand jobs as administrative professionals, project managers, business analysts, sysadmins, software developers, and data analysts.
What's more, that training will be offered in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, and Japanese, with a special emphasize on Asian populations and workers. As we dig into each of these sets of offerings, you can’t help but notice that Microsoft is reaching out to the world in a broad and inclusive way. I’m impressed.
Microsoft and PMI: Power Platform University Hub
In a Nov. 29 media release, Microsoft reports that it is partnering with the Project Management Institute (PMI) to teach students how to use "low-code" approaches to solve business problems. Their goal is to show employees "how to streamline processes, gain efficiencies, improve business intelligence, and ultimately drive digital transformation across the organization."
Instead of turning to trained software developers to help with such tasks, low-code platforms — most especially Microsoft’s Power Platform — lets rank-and-file employees put such technology to work directly and quickly. According to the announcement, in fact, Gartner forecasts that, by 2025, "70 percent of new enterprise applicatoions will use low-code technologies."
The planned program, named Power Platform University Hub, delivers a comprehensive curriculum that aims to help students use low-code platforms to accelerate digital transformation. The program follows a "learning journey" based on a sequence of over a dozen courses, including low-code development and analytics tools.
Students who complete this sequence earn two credentials: the PMI Citizen Developer Practitioner Micro-Credential and the PL-100 Microsoft Power Platform App Maker. According to the announcement, 28 universities took part in a pilot program that put more than 1,500 low-code developers on their way toward "building applications for future employers."
The idea driving the Citizen Developer approach, as enunciated by Sam Sibley, Global Head of Citizen Developer at PMI, is to create "a catalyst for faster change and is revolutionizing the way we work, as well as the way we are able to create social impact."
Of the partnership with Microsoft, he says in part that "we are excited to work with Microsoft to help enable students across the globe with the skills they need to thrive, both in the workplace and when impacting social change."
Participation through an educational institution currently appears to be required, as the announcement states "Sign up today by having a faculty member complete the onboarding form. Once your form submission has been processed, your school’s Microsoft accounts will be given access to the Power Platform University Hub so your students can embark on their low-code learning journeys."
I’m still looking for a list of participating schools (it looks like many colleges, universities and community colleges have access to the Microsoft University Portal, but who’s in and who’s out is not readily intelligible). Bottom line: If you’re enrolled at a college or university that has Microsoft portal access, then this is probably worth looking into right now.
If you're not presently furthering your education, then the Power Platform and PMI partnership is likely a non-starter for the time being. You'll have to wait for Microsoft to extend this offering beyond the hallowed halls of higher education.
Microsoft and LinkedIn Go Global on Digital Skills
This program, announced on Nov. 30, will provide free access to 250 courses, six new Career Essentials Certificates, and 50,000 LinkedIn Learning Scholarships. The stated goal is to add 10 million more to the 14 million engaged learners in Asia already involved in the two companies’ "Skills for Jobs" program.
By 2025 — just two years hence — Microsoft and LinkedIn seek to train and certify at least 10 million people, equipping them with the skills needed for high-demand positions in IT. Their overall Global Skills Initiative has already assisted some 80 million job seekers around the globe, of which 14 million come from Asia.
The certificates that MS and LinkedIn are adding to their offerings, based on extensive data analysis from LinkedIn and the Burning Glass Institute, cover six different job roles. These are as follows:
The curriculum, as noted above, will be offered in seven languages including English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, and Japanese. Microsoft and LinkedIn seek to provide inclusive and engaging learning and economic opportunities so that learners can easily acquire skills, technology, and opportunities to excel in the digital economy.
The so-called Career Essential Certificates carry learners from basic or foundational digital literacy training into more technical and workplace focused skills training, with an eye to preparing successful candidates for actual paying jobs. Courses are available through opportunity.linkedin.com.
Microsoft-developed classes also appear in Microsoft Community Training, and may be downloaded by nonprofit partners for use in third-party learning management systems (LMSs).
The Future’s So Bright
Certainly these latest initiatives tell me that Microsoft remains serious about sharing its insight and know-how with global learners to help them improve their job prospects, while also helping to narrow the so-called IT skills and employment gaps. It’s the best form of enlightened self-interest, where Microsoft’s willingness to invest in helping people improve their economic and career prospects also gives them a golden opportunity to cherry-pick the best and brightest participants in their programs and offerings.