SAN FRANCISCO - Microsoft on Tuesday launched an effort to teach 25 million people around the world digital-age work skills free of charge by the end of the year.
The US technology titan said it will back the effort with $20 million in cash grants to nonprofit organizations and tap into resources at developer-focused platform GitHub and career-oriented social network LinkedIn.
"One of the key steps needed to foster a safe and successful economic recovery is expanded access to the digital skills needed to fill new jobs," Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a blog post.
"And one of the keys to a genuinely inclusive recovery are programs to provide easier access to digital skills for people hardest hit by job losses, including those with lower incomes, women, and underrepresented minorities."
A quarter of the grant money will be directed to community-based nonprofit organizations that are led by and serve US communities of color, according to Smith.
"This initiative will bring together every part of our company," Smith said.
"At its heart, this is a comprehensive technology initiative that will build on data and digital technology."
The coronavirus crisis has taken a much heavier toll on jobs than previously feared, the UN said Tuesday, warning that the situation in the Americas was particularly dire.
In a fresh study, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that by the mid-year point, global working hours were down 14 percent compared to last December -- equivalent to some 400 million full-time jobs.
"Things are getting worse. The job crisis is deepening," ILO chief Guy Ryder told AFP in an interview.
"We are not through this yet," he warned.
The ILO said the new figures reflected the worsening situation in many regions in recent weeks, especially in developing economies.
© Agence France-Presse