Why Microsoft and The Markle Foundation Are Working Together to Connect Workers with New Opportunities in the Digital Economy
By Zoë Baird and Brad Smith
In June 2017 we announced a three year partnership between The Markle Foundation and Microsoft Philanthropies. Microsoft is investing more than $25 million over three years in Markle and the expansion of its successful Skillful initiative, first across Colorado and then to other states. This is one of the single biggest philanthropic investments Microsoft Philanthropies has made, reflecting the importance of the work involved. The workforce is undergoing an upheaval unlike anything we’ve seen since coal and steam propelled machines to the forefront of industry in the 19th Century. Technological advancements, like cloud computing, computer automation, and artificial intelligence, are demanding new skills and making long-familiar occupations almost unrecognizable. Here in the United States, millions of Americans, whose skills were valuable just a few years ago, find themselves underemployed—or worse, out of work altogether. On the flip side, employers who are digitally transforming their own operations are unable to find enough skilled workers to effectively run their businesses.