Microsoft has launched a training programme called StepIn2Tech, that aims to equip 10,000 people with digital skills.

It is particularly focused on supporting those who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic and who are looking to pursue new career opportunities in the digital economy. 

It will also support people who have either recently left school or college or are mid-career in an industry that is digitally transforming. 

The StepIn2Tech programme has been developed in partnership with Fastrack to IT and is supported by Prodigy Learning. 

It aims to bridge a growing skills gap within the Irish economy by providing online skills training that match the in-demand skills from industry.  

Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director, Microsoft Ireland, said the reality is that the recovery will have digital at its core as the economy is increasingly powered by technology.

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"The acceleration in digital transformation of traditional and new companies and sectors over recent months has unlocked new areas of employment - ranging from digital marketing to cloud services.

"We have partnered with Fastrack to IT to create a bespoke reskilling programme with the support of Prodigy Learning that equips those recently made unemployed or temporarily displaced with the digital skills that match today's and tomorrow’s in-demand jobs," Ms Hallahan said.

"The StepIn2Tech courses are designed to show people that technology is now part of almost every job – and having even basic digital skills opens up loads of opportunities.  This is about accessible learning, with plenty of supports for people who are new to the area."

The StepIn2Tech programme has been developed in partnership with Fastrack to IT and is supported by Prodigy Learning

The programme provides one-to-one advice and mentoring from Fastrack to IT's digi-chaperones and guidance and support from Microsoft employees on soft skills development such as interview techniques and CV writing. 

Each course is completed online and at a learner’s own pace. Participants will develop the technical and soft skills required to either gain an entry level role in the rapidly growing parts of the economy - either directly in a technology company or within traditional sectors that are becoming increasingly digitised. 

Many may choose to take a further step on their learning pathway by participating in some or all of the starter courses focused on productivity, coding, infrastructure, cloud, and design, deepening their knowledge and skill levels. 

"Our new StepIn2Tech initiative is the latest in a number of learning pathways that Microsoft Ireland has developed as part of our Pathways for Life education and training programme," Ms Hallahan said, "which empowers learners – irrespective of their age, background or experience – to participate fully in Ireland’s digital economy through the development of their digital skills."

Peter Davitt, CEO, Fastrack to IT, said the firm recognised the need to address the growing levels of unemployment and the digital skills gap in the economy.

"Through StepIn2Tech, we will provide jobs seekers and displaced workers with easily accessible digital skills training that will open up new career paths and opportunities." 

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD, said his department has put a focus on providing the supports required to help people to retrain and upskill so they can grow and succeed. "The support of industry in this regard is exactly what we need," he said.

"This innovative initiative by Microsoft will help support thousands most adversely affected by Covid-19 and offer them new opportunities to reskill and find employment within growing areas of the economy. I look forward to seeing its positive impact over the coming months."