Some 30m people propped up their careers via online training last year: two firms have noted this sustainable skills based hiring paradigm.

From laid-off factory workers to retail staff and truck drivers, millions of people turned to online learning courses from GitHub, LinkedIn and Microsoft in 2020 during the pandemic.

This helped them to prepare for and secure the most in-demand roles, including customer service, project management and data analysis, according to a recent announcement from Microsoft, which owns employment and business networking firm LinkedIn.

The two firms’ free online or low-cost courses were said to have helped over 30 million people in 249 countries and territories gain access to digital skills, of which close to 6 million of them are from Asia Pacific region (APAC). This tops the firms’ initial goal of helping 25 million last June, and also signals the continuing commitment to help 250,000 companies globally to leverage skills-based hiring for the rest of this year.

This next stage of the initiative is expected to set a new foundation for a skills-based economy through a suite of new tools and platforms designed to connect skilled job seekers with employers.

Towards inclusive skills-based hiring

New features in LinkedIn can help match job candidates with hiring firms based on the best skills instead of just paper qualifications.

According to Microsoft Asia’s President Ahmed Mazhari: “Skills will be the new currency in the post-pandemic world. For us to emerge stronger from the pandemic, reskilling needs to be at the center of our economic reset. Together with LinkedIn, we are doubling down our efforts to redesign work in the region by supporting the development of a more inclusive skills-based labor market, creating more alternatives, greater flexibility, and accessible learning paths that connect people more readily with new job opportunities.”

LinkedIn’s Managing Director & Vice-President (Asia Pacific & China), Olivier Legrand, said: “More and more, we are seeing skills-based hiring becoming critical in our world of work. We’ve seen people across the globe express a desire to learn and build their skills, and organizations too, are hiring based on skills instead of traditional qualifications. LinkedIn, together with Microsoft, are committed to helping everyone shift towards a skills-based economy. In 2021, we will continue our efforts to equip jobseekers with the right resources to pick up new skills, and connect them to opportunities, as well as aim to help 250,000 organizations make a skills-based hire.”

The two entities have some initiatives to provide both new ways for job seekers to demonstrate their skills, as well as new tools for employers to connect to candidates based on their skill proficiencies:

  • To help organizations hire for skills, LinkedIn’s Skills Path pilot program brings together LinkedIn Learning courses with Skill Assessments to help recruiters source candidates in a more equitable way, based on the candidates’ proven skills. There is a plan to broaden hiring practices so that candidates with diverse experiences are included.
  • Some 75% of hiring managers supposedly believe that a standard resume is no longer sufficient for the evaluation of a candidate’s soft skills, and almost 80% believe video has become more important when evaluating candidates. So, LinkedIn is launching new expressive and personalized profile features to let jobseekers sharemore about themselves, their career and goals in a more authentic and engaging way. This includes a video Cover Story that allows job seekers to demonstrate their soft skills to recruiters and hiring managers.
  • There will be expanded access to LinkedIn’s Skills Graph to help create a common skills language for individuals, employers, educational institutions and government agencies to help improve workforce planning, hiring and development programs.
  • To supplement LinkedIn’s work to promote far-reaching digital skills opportunities, Microsoft will use Career Coach, a Microsoft Teams for Education app powered by LinkedIn that provides personalized guidance for higher education students to navigate their career journey. The app offers educational institutions a unified career solution for students to help them discover their goals, interests and skills using an AI-based skills identifier and LinkedIn integration that aligns a student’s comprehensive profile with job market trends and helps them grow real-world skills and connect with mentors and peers all in one place.

Finally, as part of its global initiative, Microsoft has worked closely with non-profit partners to help provide wrap-around support with coaching, mentoring and networking to nearly six million learners worldwide. The firm will apply these lessons more broadly and is announcing a new online service, Career Connector, that will provide 50,000 job seekers worldwide with the opportunity to secure a tech-enabled job over the next three years. The service will focus on learners who have built skills via Microsoft’s non-profit and learning partners, with an emphasis on women and under-represented minorities in technology.