Microsoft has announced a comprehensive national skills programme to boost digital skills and ensure the UK remains at the forefront of the global cloud-enabled economy.
The multi-year strategy will provide training in both everyday digital literacy as well as targeted efforts to equip the UK's public and private sectors with vital cloud technology skills.
As part of its programme, Microsoft is unveiling plans to train 30,000 UK public servants -- for free -- in a range of digital skills. This will enable the UK government and public sector organisations to deliver better, more efficient, more modern and transformative services to all people in the UK.
"We believe a fourth industrial revolution is underway – one driven by the transformative power of cloud technologies," said Cindy Rose, Microsoft UK CEO. "In the wake of the EU referendum vote, the UK is looking at charting a new and different path to its future and Microsoft is committed, as it has been for more than thirty years, to helping the UK realise its full potential. We believe maintaining the UK's global competitiveness relies on a successful transition to a cloud-enabled economy. At Microsoft, we aim to do our part by investing back into the UK digital economy to ensure people of all ages and backgrounds are equipped with the skills necessary to thrive into the future."
Consequently, Microsoft is committing to making available, to everyone in the UK, free online digital literacy training that will help equip them for the challenges and opportunities of the years ahead. Additionally, Microsoft is launching a Cloud Skills Initiative -- an ambitious scheme to train 500,000 people in the UK in advanced cloud technology skills by 2020.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond said: "This is further evidence that Britain is one of the best places in the world to do digital business. Microsoft's commitment to training, technology and apprenticeships will ensure that we remain at the cutting edge of innovation.
"Our technology industry is fundamental to securing future economic growth and this government is committed to ensuring it continues to thrive. It's a key part of our Industrial Strategy to back Britain for the long term, creating the conditions where business can flourish, driving growth for the whole nation."
Drawing upon one of its greatest assets, Microsoft has already worked with its network of 25,000 UK-based partner companies to deliver 11,000 digital apprentices. This has eclipsed the original target of 4,000 set in 2012. Today's new initiative calls for a tripling of this run-rate to achieve an additional 30,000 new digital apprenticeships – through the MS apprenticeship programme -- in the UK by 2020. And, mindful of the company's commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion within the tech sector, Microsoft aims to ensure higher proportions of women and minority groups are included and supported within these schemes.
"Microsoft sees digital apprenticeships as a vital tool to address the skills shortage in the UK and ensuring the UK's competitive advantage." Rose added. "This is not just about the numbers of people acquiring these skills so necessary for the future but also attracting and supporting a diverse range of people. In particular, we will work hard to attract more women to these programmes. And, in order to do that, we encourage all organisations to do what they can to also provide and support as many diverse UK apprenticeships as possible."
According to Microsoft's Digital Transformation Report1 released late last year, just 35% of public sector respondents believe they have a digitally literate leadership team, which highlights some of the challenges faced by public sector organisations in embracing digital transformation. Hence, in order to bridge this gap, Microsoft aims to train 30,000 UK public servants with necessary skills ranging from basic digital literacy to more advanced skills that will lead to better digital services to people in the UK.