Microsoft’s Get On 2021 campaign to help 1.5 million people in the UK build careers in technology by 2025

Microsoft is launching a five-year campaign to help 1.5 million people build careers in technology and help 300,000 connect to tech job opportunities.

KPMG, Unilever and the Department of Work and Pensions are supporting the campaign and Microsoft is calling on other UK businesses to join them in helping create the technology workforce the country needs.

The UK is facing multiple challenging disruptions, including the pandemic, establishing new global trading relationships and the rapid digitisation that is happening across every part of the economy. The campaign aims to help address the widening digital talent gap in industry, to accelerate technology adoption, drive UK productivity and enhance competitiveness by increasing access to tech careers and fostering new talent pathways.

Get On 2021 builds on Microsoft’s one-year global skills initiative and will train people who are in education, those new to tech and those who have had their jobs impacted by the crisis. It will advance the skills of tech professionals and help leaders who need to embrace new business models and deploy technology to drive organisations forward.

Speaking at Microsoft’s Envision UK event, Clare Barclay, CEO of Microsoft UK, said: “The shape of the UK economy and its workforce is changing; a change only accelerated by the rapid move to digital working in the wake of the disruption we’ve seen this year. With hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs and some traditional sectors heavily impacted, we urgently need to invest in UK technical skills and capability to help realise our competitive potential. We want to help people get the right skills to thrive in technology careers, and employers find the right talent to help drive business success and UK prosperity. Together we can build a future based on long-term sustainable growth.”

Bar chart showing capacity of 3m of new tech jobs

Microsoft research has identified two key areas for growth. Using LinkedIn data, we anticipate the need for more than three million skilled people in UK technology careers over the next five years. Allied to which, a Microsoft study with Goldsmiths, University of London has identified more than £48 billion of opportunity if UK leaders enhance their organisations’ digital competitiveness through sustainable growth practices. Visit AKA.MS/UKrecovery to download a copy of the report.

Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said: “I am delighted with Microsoft’s announcement of Get On 2021, boosting the confidence and skills of young people starting their careers and helping experienced workers to upskill or switch jobs. This kind of support – acting locally and in partnership with industry – is not only vital to the future of jobseekers, but also to the success of the UK economy as we build back better.

“It is extremely encouraging that this will complement our comprehensive package of support through our £30 billion Plan for Jobs – with our Kickstart scheme providing hundreds of thousands of good quality jobs for young people and our new JETS programme giving people who have recently become unemployed the helping hand they need to get back into work.”

Microsoft is working with its 25,000-strong partner community and customers to create, expand and accelerate pathways into tech careers, widening access and building a more diverse tech specialist workforce.

Lisa Heneghan, KPMG UK’s Chief Digital Officer, said: “Given the speed with which the world has revolutionised digitally, not only in the last six months, but in the recent decades – the importance of digital and technical skills for the next generation of workers cannot be stressed enough.

“The business community must recognise the need to build technology into the bones of our business strategies and community outreach, as we have done at KPMG. In the current economic climate, investing in career opportunities for a tech-driven talent pipeline, will be vital to help futureproof the success of the UK economy.”


Leena Nair, Chief HR Officer at Unilever, added: “Technology innovation is central to being a purpose-led, future-fit business and to our ambition of growing sustainably. We need to support people with a passion for purpose and technology to bring their new ideas to life by helping them to constantly build and develop new skills. That is why we look forward to working with Microsoft on their Get On 2021 initiative that puts people at the heart of technology-led growth.”

Bringing together programmes targeting education through to industry, the campaign aims to connect new entrants and digitally skilled people to jobs in technology and strengthen current digital capability in other sectors. It will focus on three key groups:

  • New Tech Talent: People who are in education or leaving education and will be new to the world of work. E.g. School, college and university students
  • Upskillers: People looking to improve their skills and long-term career prospects, Career switchers from regions and industries most affected by the current crisis and those looking to return to the workplace after redundancy or other life events. E.g. Advanced knowledge workers
  • Modernisers: IT Pros and business leaders looking to improve their skills and long-term career prospects. Those who want to learn to leverage the latest technology to improve organisational/business effectiveness and create sustainable growth.

Core programmes in the campaign include pre-employability programmes for students across the UK, expanding apprenticeships through levy transfer, social impact partnerships, career switcher programmes, AI and AI business schools and Talent Accelerator academies. Existing partnerships with UA92, UK colleges and universities, the Institute of Digital Technology, DWP and the DFE’s Skills Toolkit will also support those looking to participate. Additionally, Microsoft is working with its partner community and LinkedIn to directly connect skilled people to job opportunities in technology.

Josh Graff, UK Country Manager at LinkedIn, said: “The global pandemic has accelerated digital transformation as companies quickly adapt to new ways of working and consider a more flexible future. This has created a tremendous opportunity for people with digital technology skills who are now in even higher demand from employers across a breadth of industries. Giving people the opportunity to learn digital skills is not only important to improving the long-term employability of the UK workforce, but it also gives companies access to a more diverse talent pool, which will help drive business and economic growth. We’re delighted that more than half a million people in the UK have learned new digital skills in the past three months alone through free learning courses from Microsoft and LinkedIn, and hope the Get On 2021 initiative inspires even more people to explore a career in this thriving industry.”

One such individual who has already benefitted from Microsoft’s training programmes is career changer Amelia Router. Amelia found herself unemployed having left her job as a senior carer before lockdown. With a delayed house move and childcare a factor for two working parents, she was unable to commit to anything long-term in the area and was struggling to figure out what she could do as a future career. Amelia came across the Microsoft Data Science Bootcamp run by Microsoft partner ACME UC, aimed at supporting women into one of the most in-demand roles in technology. Today, Amelia is a successful data analyst apprentice and spends her day turning data insights into concrete actions for companies. She said: “The job is super flexible, and home based, so it works around my family. It’s reassuring knowing that if and when we move on from our current location I can continue to work and have a progressive career with the company I am with.”


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