More than half a million people in UK have learned new digital skills in the past three months

More than half a million people in the UK have learned new digital skills in the past three months by taking free, online Microsoft and LinkedIn learning courses.

They are part of 10 million people in 231 countries and territories who have engaged with an course since July.

Microsoft announced the milestone just 12 weeks after launching an ambitious global skills initiative aimed at helping 25 million people gain more digital skills in 2020.

With the latest ONS figures indicating that around 1.4 million people in the UK are out of work, and that figure likely to increase significantly when the furlough scheme comes to an end in late October, this goal is more important than ever.

A total of 509,474 people in the UK have taken a LinkedIn, Microsoft or GitHub course, with the country ranking third for the most learners in the world.

The US has recorded the most engaged learners, followed by India. The most popular learning paths to move to in-demand roles are Software Developer, Customer Service specialist and Digital Marketing.

Josh Graff, UK Country Manager at LinkedIn, said: “We’re delighted that our free LinkedIn Learning courses are helping so many people all over the country gain the critical skills that employers are looking for today. COVID-19 has highlighted more than ever the importance of digital skills and how key they are to securing new jobs and setting people up for the long-term. We hope these resources help anyone facing challenging circumstances reskill for some of today’s most in-demand roles in the digital economy.”

The news comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed “radical changes” to the adult education system in England to boost the economy and support people who want to learn new skills.

As part of the government initiative, Microsoft will now reach even more people with sought after digital skills with the inclusion of their free online learning courses as part of the national Skills Toolkit.

Microsoft wants to encourage underserved populations and those impacted by COVID-19 to learn new skills, to promote economic uplift and help build the diverse workforce of the future.

The company has recently welcomed its new apprentice cohort, launched an Xbox Games Academy Workshop to help people learn how to make their own games, and extend a pilot scheme with Catch 22 that recruits candidates with a range of access-to-work challenges – from gender and ethnicity barriers, homelessness, mental health issues, school exclusion and disability – and supports them to access a digital apprenticeship with a local employer within Microsoft’s network of customers and partners.

Clare Barclay, CEO at Microsoft UK, said: “As a country we face multiple challenges, but we believe that learning unlocks opportunity. Today, more than ever, individuals, businesses and government must build the skills we need for tomorrow. Because if we fail to act now, the UK could easily be left behind in the global economy. There are no better investments in our future than the kinds of accessible, lifelong and flexible programmes that the Prime Minister has announced.”

For more information on Microsoft’s global skills initiative, visit