The fourth industrial revolution is fueling accelerated change in society and the workplace. Technology advancements, the rise of cloud, socio-economic and demographic changes are shifting expectations and placing new demands on society. While these changes hold great promise, education systems will need to respond to prepare students for the future. While students will still need 21st century skills like collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity and computational thinking, it’s becoming increasingly important to equip students with the technology skills they’ll need to thrive in a digital economy. Skills like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, productivity and more are already in demand in organizations around the world, yet jobs remain unfilled, and the talent gap persists and is set to widen. More than half of today’s jobs require technology skills, but in less than a decade that number will grow to more than 77%.

Microsoft’s mission to empower every student on the planet to achieve more is a commitment to do more to support students and educators from K-Career to be ready to innovate and create in an increasingly digital world. Our focus extends to ensuring we not only grow the number of students equipped with technology skills, but also do more to grow student diversity and fuel careers in technology. With affordable and free products, lessons, and resources—backed by globally adopted training and support and industry recognized certifications—we can empower every student to succeed in school, careers, and life.

To empower students to be future-ready Microsoft is focused on

  1. Supporting educators to teach new technology concepts
  2. Educating students to be future-ready with technology skills
  3. Empowering institutions with curricula and certifications
  4. Connecting institutions with corporations to support student employability

Through investments in skilling programs and platforms, Microsoft is excited to share more on the ways in which students can get future-ready:

Spark curiosity with STEM, computer science and give purpose to learning

The start of any student learning journey is a great time to ensure they are inspired, engaged and feel connected, with a sense of purpose, to what they are learning, particularly as it relates to STEM. Microsoft provides students access to Minecraft: Education Edition, MakeCode, Hacking STEM, along with connections to a range of partners who continue to do great work to inspire students.

Extend productivity skills and grow competence in emerging technology concepts

As they progress through their academic years, it is important that students extend learning with productivity tools that will become the foundation for much of their career like Office 365. We are excited by the many customers who have already prioritized readying their students for the future with productivity, leveraging Microsoft Imagine Academy to align students to curriculum and certifications to prepare them for an increasingly digital workforce. Earlier this year, I was inspired by the energy of students who competed in the annual Microsoft Office Specialist World Championships – top students from the over 800,000 who participated globally – take a look at the excitement.

Drive employability with role-based, technical skilling and industry recognized certification

In a Linkedin Learning recent review, it was shared that the top 2 hard skills employers are looking for today are 1) Cloud Computing and 2) Artificial Intelligence. The cloud skills talent gap is set to be the largest and most impactful of all talent shortages we’ve encountered, and it is only going to grow. Microsoft provides a number of programs designed to support and cultivate student interest in technology and support employability, including a renewed focus on role-based learning paths and associated certifications, self-paced learning, and experiential opportunities. From getting hands on with Azure for Student, taking industry recognized Fundamentals and Role-Based Certifications, to participating in global challenges like Imagine Cup and Imagine Cup Junior.

I’m particularly excited by Microsoft Learn, a new platform from Microsoft which offers diverse resources to help students, educators and IT skill up in a self-paced, self-directed online environment at no cost. Microsoft Learn provides step by step tutorials, interactive scripting environments, and task-based achievements that help advance technical skills. The platform allows students to create collections, a curation of content to develop personalized learning plans and easily share them with others. If you haven’t tried Microsoft Learn, log in to Microsoft Learn and start to experience the learning modules and paths.

While there are many opportunities for students to engage in their own learning, Microsoft also provides institutions and schools access to offerings to support scalable programs, curriculum and tools to support skill development, including Microsoft Educator Center, Microsoft Imagine Academy, Azure Dev Tools for Teaching, Azure Lab Services, alongside Linkedin Learning and GitHub Education.

We’re excited about our journey to support students and educators to skill up and be ready to change the world with technology. For more information on our various products, programs and learning opportunities, download our Empowering Students to be Future-Ready Brochure. We’re committed to this ongoing evolution, so please stay tuned for more exciting announcements over the coming months!