Markle Foundation Receives $25.8 Million for Job Skills Initiative

Microsoft has announced a three-year, $25.8 million grant to the Markle Foundation in support of an initiative that connects American workers and businesses in a rapidly evolving labor market.

Awarded by Microsoft Philanthropies, the grant will expand Markle's Skillful initiative, a data-driven approach to connecting American workers with businesses facing a shortage of skilled labor. Launched in Colorado in 2016, Skillful brings together key players in the labor market — employers, state and federal governments, LinkedIn, educators, and workforce centers — with the aim of helping American workers adapt to changing workplace demands and expectations. Through the Skillful platform, coaches and online services help job seekers learn which skills are in demand and then connects them to professional training. The initiative also works to get employers and educators on the same page with respect to the skills required to succeed in today’s digital economy.

With the grant from Microsoft, the initiative will expand its efforts in Colorado and additional states, while creating a replicable skills-based labor market model that helps millions of Americans overcome barriers to better-paying jobs. In addition to its cash investment, Microsoft will provide digital skills training for individuals as well as learning tools for coaches, educators, and employers.

"There are seven-point-three million fewer jobs in the United States today for people with a high school degree or less than there were in 1989. At the same time, six million jobs in our country go unfilled due in large part to a shortage of skilled workers," said Microsoft president Brad Smith. "This mismatch is leaving workers on the sidelines and employers without the talent they need to run their operations. Skillful is building an entire ecosystem to close this gap, helping Americans find and train for better-paying jobs, while connecting employers with the talent they need to thrive in the digital economy."