We live in challenging times. Pandemics, global events, and economic crises – all influence the way we live and work. Digital skills have become crucial for agility and resilience in the labor market. Microsoft understands the impact of digital skills for future employability and fostering inclusivity, not only in the workforce but also in shaping a more welcoming and diverse world.
As the war in Ukraine continues, the economic burden on women supporting families as internally displaced or refugees has increased dramatically. A large number of men have been mobilized or lost their jobs, and according to a recent UNDP study, under such conditions, a significant proportion of forcibly displaced women were interested in vocational training in order to find new livelihood opportunities. To address this, Microsoft Philanthropies has partnered with different non-government organizations to develop impactful Skills for Jobs programs, specifically tailored to support Ukrainian refugees across Europe.
These programs prioritize the development of practical skills, language proficiency, and cultural understanding while enabling successful integration into European societies. Examples of program initiatives include:
IT skills acquisition and placement: intensive IT reskilling and upskilling programs offered by Czechitas, a non-profit organization from the Czech Republic, which helps its students improve or pick up new IT skills and career transition soft skills, thus facilitating better integration and employment prospects.
Language acquisition: Intensive language training and courses offered by organizations to improve language proficiency, facilitating better integration and employment prospects.
Vocational training: Programs equip Ukrainian refugees with job-specific skills and competencies, addressing skill shortages in various industries and sectors.
Entrepreneurship and business skills: Training empowers refugees to start their own businesses or work as freelancers. These programs provide training in entrepreneurship, business planning, financial management, marketing, and other essential skills necessary to establish and operate a successful business.
Digital skills and technology training: Emphasis is placed on digital literacy, coding, and other technology-related skills to adapt to digital workplaces and access remote work opportunities. Instytut Kosciuszko from Poland works on the professional inclusion of 70 Ukrainian women with cybersecurity webinars in English and native languages. Aj Ty v IT from Slovakia has developed the academy for Ukrainian women providing Slovak and English testing courses for junior positions for testers. Czech NGO 42 Prague | Worldclass school of coding, committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive community, provided over 20 scholarships for applicants in the previous period.
Mentorship and job placement support: Professionals connected with refugees provide guidance and support in navigating the job market and establishing networks. Czechitas has a mission to inspire, train and guide towards diversity and competition in IT with mentorship programs, competitiveness in IT with mentorship programs, with open hours consultations, career consultations, mentoring, and one on one support.
Cultural orientation and social integration: Workshops and activities promote cross-cultural understanding and help refugees adapt to their new environments. FIT from Ireland created a Ukrainian hub to help educate and hire Ukrainians. The program was initiated by Ukrainians already living in Ireland to foster workforce inclusion, and they have trained over 12.000 Ukrainians with 20 apprenticeships. Cultural sensitivity training also fosters positive interactions and minimizes cultural misunderstandings.
These examples highlight the diversity of programs aimed at skilling Ukrainian refugees. By learning from successful initiatives, Microsoft aims to enhance inclusion and bridge job gaps globally. Through partnerships, targeted focus areas, customized learning processes, vibrant community-building, and a safe and supportive environment, these programs create opportunities for refugees to improve their livelihoods and contribute to their host societies.
Microsoft’s commitment to reskilling Ukrainian refugees extends beyond providing technical skills. With over 112,000 Ukrainians engaged in free learning through the Skills for Jobs Learning Pathways initiative, Microsoft’s collaboration with LinkedIn Learning and GitHub demonstrates the potential to empower individuals and close job gaps worldwide. While incorporating soft skills and a human-centric approach, all these programs and initiatives will continue to address the unique needs and experiences of each individual, fostering a truly inclusive society.