Preparing the next generation of tech professionals with the skills they need to succeed
Published Jun 27 2023 09:00 AM 28.9K Views

Over the past few months, Microsoft Learn has published a series of blogs showcasing the latest trends in the tech industry and the increasing demand for tech skills. This series has highlighted in-depth LinkedIn data showing that preparing talent for an ever-changing job market is more important than ever. Despite recent layoffs at tech companies, the demand for technical skills in the modern workplace has never been greater; LinkedIn data has shown that the need for tech talent is flourishing in non-tech industries such as education, healthcare, finance, and government proving that not just tech companies are looking for people with technology skills.


Helping students become work-ready is top of mind for educators and institutions, as it is essential that students not only build technical skills and expertise, but also then connect with employers looking for these critical skills. Higher education institutions are looking for new ways to prepare their students, especially now that more employers are engaging in skills-based hiring and looking beyond just those people who have formal 4-year degrees. More of these institutions see the value in partnering with Microsoft to help their students learn valuable tech skills and earn industry-recognized certifications, and many are turning to the resources and training found through Microsoft Learn.


Recently, Times Higher Education, a British magazine reporting specifically on news and issues related to higher education, published an article discussing these trends and how, as the market for technical skills continues to evolve and grow, employers need a sustainable stream of talent to realize their ambitions. Many are experiencing a digital skills gap, where they are lacking access to professionals with the right experience and qualifications in current and emerging technologies.  The article profiles three universities who have partnered with Microsoft to help students make career connections with employers and unlock opportunities for new talent to gain digital credentials and begin a rewarding career in tech.


Bridging the gap: helping students to be work-ready 

The universities highlighted in the article are preparing students for the current tech employment landscape with the support of Microsoft programs including Microsoft Learn for Educators (MSLE), which provides higher education institutions and educators with a suite of comprehensive tools and resources to augment students’ existing degree paths with industry-recognized certifications. More educators are seeing the value of students acquiring these certifications in today’s job market, while MSLE gives them access to ready-made, instructor-led curriculum that can put students on a path to a variety of technical careers, as educators can work with students on certifications in their specialist fields. Students are increasingly more interested in pursuing these credentials because of growing awareness that employers value these industry certifications in addition to college degrees, as this combination gives students an advantage as they begin applying for jobs.


Further, students can also turn to Microsoft as they begin their careers in tech, gaining skills and connecting with employers with the help of Microsoft Learn Career Connected which pairs the tools and resources of Microsoft Learn with the power of LinkedIn. Microsoft Learn Career Connected has shown to be particularly useful for those students who don’t necessarily know their desired career path, as they can get recommended suggestions for learning paths that make sense based on their interests or the courses they are currently taking. Students can interact with a community of other learners and get their perspectives and support, share their experiences, and connect with employers who are looking for specific tech skills. MSLE offers pre-curated short courses in key skills areas and supports educators to further deliver learning that students can use once they enter the world of work.


There are several success stories from universities who have offered their students access to a range of complementary Microsoft credentials through MSLE and Microsoft Learn Career Connected. One of the examples cited in the article includes the real-world implications that the pandemic had on the hard-hit hospitality industry on the Hawaiian Islands. Debasis Bhattacharya, Associate Professor at Maui College at the University of Hawaii, teaches Applied Business and Information Technology and uses MSLE to support his students in gaining digital certifications that will make them stand out to employers. Maui College is already seeing results from using the teaching and learning content and resources available as part of MSLE. As more students gain certifications, the college has seen an uptick in employers approaching students before they graduate. “They are getting more internships that should lead to more full-time roles once they graduate,” Bhattacharya says. 


MSLE is also being used with continuing education programs in Canada. The University of Calgary was the first institution in Canada to become an education global training partner with Microsoft. Valuable support has come from MSLE in terms of curriculum planning, according to Vui Kien Liau, Associate Director of Technology Programs for continuing education at Calgary. “Students could just access courses on the internet, but they get value out of the experience of sharing and interacting with instructors,” he says. “The MSLE program helps us to build a curriculum that appeals to all learners.” The university has already trained more than 13,000 students in Microsoft Azure Cloud.


Lastly, although Eastern Washington University (EWU) is in the early stages of using MSLE to support its teaching, many students have already successfully achieved certifications which will afford them an advantage in the labor market according to Alexandros Paparas, Assistant Professor at EWU. “Businesses often come to us looking for potential recruits, so the students all find jobs before they graduate.” While students often build early links with employers and apply directly for roles, Microsoft Learn Career Connected and its dedicated LinkedIn group have also been useful for students in terms of networking, showcasing their credentials, and honing their job applications. 


Making career connections: how Microsoft opens doors for new talent  

The article goes on to highlight in more detail how Microsoft Learn Career Connected can help students connect with employers looking for technical skillsets. Many find that gaining digital credentials can be the first step towards a rewarding career in tech, and then Microsoft Learn Career Connected can help link students with a range of opportunities with employers. 


For example, Avanade, a global professional services company providing IT consulting and services focused on the Microsoft platform, has a long history with Microsoft and is part of Microsoft Learn Career Connected, offering students help with training, employee placement, and assistance finding a job.


Another organization showcased is TechFluent—a non-profit organization supported by volunteers in the technology industry that aims to provide mentorship and training on Microsoft's Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform—that also connects participants to available jobs within the tech industry.


Preparing the next generation with MSLE, Microsoft Learn Career Connected, and Microsoft Certifications

Now more than ever we are seeing that all jobs truly are tech jobs and that tech skills are in-demand across so many industries. When it comes to employment, we are seeing the value that industry-recognized certifications provide for students beyond formal and traditional degrees. More higher education institutions are turning to Microsoft programs like MSLE to help them prepare students for an evolving job market and to build the technical skills they need to meet growing demand. And it doesn’t stop there—once students have the skills, they can turn to Microsoft Learn Career Connected as they begin their career— connecting with employers and new job opportunities. Programs like Microsoft Learn for Educators and Microsoft Learn Career Connected, as well as training and certifications, are here to help prepare students as they begin their career and can offer continued support throughout their learning journey.


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