Microsoft launches digital skills programme for the UK

Microsoft has launched a programme to teach digital skills to people across the UK to ensure the country remains one of the global leaders in cloud computing, artificial intelligence and other next-generation technologies.

The announcement, which corresponded with a visit by Chancellor Philip Hammond to the company’s UK headquarters, revealed that Microsoft will train 30,000 public servants for free in a range of digital skills. This will allow those UK government and public sector organisations to deliver better, more efficient and modern services to people across the country.

Microsoft has also committed to making sure everyone in the UK has access to free, online digital literacy training that will prepare them for a world in which companies, schools and governments embrace technology to transform how they work.

Cindy Rose, Microsoft UK Chief Executive, and Chancellor Philip Hammond at the launch of Microsoft’s digital skills plan at the company’s UK headquarters in Reading

Additionally, Microsoft is also launching a Cloud Skills Initiative, which will train 500,000 people in the UK in advanced cloud technology skills by 2020.

“We believe a fourth industrial revolution is under way – one driven by the transformative power of cloud technologies,” said Cindy Rose, Microsoft UK Chief Executive.

“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 30 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.

digital skills

“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.”

The company has also announced it will recruit an extra 30,000 digital apprentices through its own programme for its network of 25,000 partners in the UK. This adds to the 11,000 apprentices already in roles and smashes the target of 4,000 set in 2012. Microsoft said it will ensure more women and minority groups are included and supported in these schemes.

Robson Smith, a Microsoft apprentice, showed the Chancellor how Cortana can tell jokes

Microsoft’s push to get more girls interested in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), was welcomed by the Chancellor during his tour of Microsoft’s campus in Reading. Meeting male and female apprentices working for Microsoft, he noted how Rose was a great role model for girls wanting to start a career in the tech sector. The Microsoft apprentices agreed there was a stereotype that holds girls back from getting involved in STEM, but role models and events like Microsoft’s female coding event DigiGirlz can help overcome that.

The Chancellor was shown a range of Microsoft products including Surface Pro 4, Microsoft Office 365, OneNote and Cortana, and had a hands-on demonstration of HoloLens, the mixed-reality headset.

Pointing to Microsoft’s digital skills announcement after revealing that the UK economy grew 0.6% in the past three months, he 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.”