SkillsRI has been awarded a $100K grant by Microsoft to close the skills gap and upskill Rhode Islanders in the COVID-19 digital economy.
The grant will be used to provide access to free, digital learning courses across LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn and GitHub as part of SkillsRI’s online education hub, Skills Academy, with the goal of helping people acquire the necessary skills to successfully navigate in-demand career paths.
Skills for Rhode Island’s Future (SkillsRI)—a nonprofit organization that connects unemployed and underemployed Rhode Islanders to job opportunities and sustainable career pathways—today announced $100K in grant funding from Microsoft. The funding will be used to expand access to digital skills-based learning resources through SkillsRI’s new online learning hub, Skills Academy, and help people who have been hit the hardest by COVID-19 related job losses navigate a career path to an in-demand role.
The funding is part of Microsoft’s worldwide initiative to help 25 million people acquire the digital skills needed to be successful in the digital economy as well as Governor Gina Raimondo’s recently-announced workforce development initiative for Rhode Islanders displaced by COVID-19.
“The workforce is in a massive period of digital transformation” said Nina Pande, Executive Director of Skills for Rhode Island’s Future. “COVID-19 has drastically impacted employment rates, and as we help get Rhode Islanders back to work, ensuring they have the digital skills that are quickly becoming the foundation of almost every in-demand job is critical. Our partnership with Microsoft will enable us to continue combatting employment barriers for marginalized communities and help people acquire the skills needed to build sustainable careers that support strong economic mobility and will lead to a more inclusive workforce.”
Leveraging global employment data, Microsoft identified the 10 most in-demand jobs in today’s economy, developing free learning pathways for people to take courses and earn a certification that maps back to these roles. Learning pathways are available for the following career paths:
- Software developer
- Sales development representative
- Project manager
- Customer service specialist
- Digital marketing specialist
- IT support / Help desk technician
- IT network administrator
- Data analyst
- Financial analyst
- Graphic designer
In addition to the 10 learning pathways, Microsoft will also be offering two digital literacy courses that will serve as optional precursors to the pathways. Topics for these courses include “working with computers to create opportunity” and “working and collaborating online.”
“At Microsoft, we’re bringing every part of our company together to help Americans acquire the skills they need to fill 21st century jobs,” says Naria Santa Lucia, general manager of digital inclusion at Microsoft Philanthropies. “We’re excited to partner with the Skills for Rhode Island’s Future to utilize resources from Microsoft and LinkedIn to help people acquire the skills needed for in-demand jobs, helping Rhode Islanders get back to work.”
The 10 learning pathways and two digital literacy courses are available for free in English and Spanish starting today on Skills Academy, SkillsRI’s learning hub offering online courses, employer-sponsored training programs and workshops dedicated to upskilling Rhode Islanders and providing them with access to meaningful employment opportunities and upward economic mobility. Skills Academy users will have access to a career coach and those eligible for SkillsRI services will receive job placement support following the completion of their courses.