2020 was the year of going to work, school and the shops without ever leaving home, or wearing pants for that matter. 2020 was also the year of job losses, a nasty economic downturn and a bleak outlook for most, but even more so for the hardest hit, lower-income and disadvantaged.
It’s clear the global and domestic economies will not be what they were pre-Covid. Increasingly, one of the key steps needed to foster a safe and successful economic recovery is expanded access to digital skills needed to fill new jobs. One of the keys to a genuinely inclusive recovery are programmes to provide easier access to digital skills for people hardest hit by job losses.
To help address this need, Microsoft has launched a global skills initiative aimed at bringing more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year.
A major part of this initiative is free access to learning paths and content to help people develop the skills these in-demand jobs require and providing low-cost certifications to those passing the exams. However, even a generously reduced examination fee of US$15 (approximately N$220), could be a tough financial ask for some students from low-income families. That is why Windhoek-based cloud-services company Salt Essential IT, and Gina Alves and Amin Azab from Microsoft (in their personal capacity) are footing the examination bill for 40 post-graduate students from Unam and NUST. “The Covid-19 health crisis has created a global economic crisis. It is also exacerbating existing economic inequality, while digital business transformation is accelerating.
Addressing these challenges at the very core level is imperative. Regardless of age – whether students in schools, youth in and out of college, or today’s IT professionals – Microsoft’s mission is to empower every individual to achieve more by skilling, upskilling and reskilling them and leading a better quality of life,” said Alves, Territory Channel Manager at Microsoft.
Managing Director of Salt, Sonja Coetzer encouraged other Namibian companies and individuals to also chip in and assist in covering the Microsoft certification examination fees of other students: “The courses offered by Microsoft are completely free of charge and imparts digital skills that are very sought-after. It is quite silly that a mere N$220 should be a stumbling block for graduates to attain a certification that will greatly enhance their options in finding employment.”