Under the plan, the technology company will train Jobcentre staff to become experts in using LinkedIn, the popular professional social network. They will then pass these skills on to jobseekers as part of the personalised and tailored support offered in the Jobcentre.
Activities will range from teaching those looking for work how to create a LinkedIn profile, to helping them develop their interests, search for vacancies, create networks with professionals and others alike, and discover mentors.
The scheme, which is aimed at helping people personalise their job searches, will be launched at around 150 Jobcentres across London, Birmingham and Essex before being rolled out further.
Cindy Rose, Chief Executive of Microsoft UK, said: “Everyone deserves the opportunity to acquire valuable new skills to identify new opportunities and start new chapters in their lives and careers.
“In the 21st century, this means getting online and connecting with people and opportunities on services like LinkedIn, home to more than 610 million professionals – which means there are 610 million opportunities to connect with the right person to drive your career.”
UK unemployment is at its lowest level in more than 40 years and is currently at 4%, with around 1.36 million people out of work, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. The figure compares favourably to other European nations, with Spain at 14.45%, France at 8.8% and the Euro area at 7.8%.
However, the UK government is keen to see unemployment further reduced, and with companies increasingly embracing new technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, developing digital skills is one way of doing that.
To ensure they are well-prepared to apply for such roles, jobseekers will be able to return to their local Jobcentre for refresher sessions on how to use LinkedIn.
Minister of State for Employment Alok Sharma said: “The digital age has provided jobseekers with more opportunities than ever before, and we are helping people develop their skills to take full advantage of what’s on offer.
“The internet is a great place for building professional networks. By partnering with Microsoft, our Jobcentre staff will continue to empower individuals to find employment utilising modern methods, whilst continuing to provide vital one-to-one Work Coach support.”