PLA, public libraries and Microsoft Corp. extend upskilling efforts for in-demand jobs

For Immediate Release
Mon, 04/26/2021


Scott Allen

Deputy Director

Public Library Association

American Library Association

CHICAGO – The Public Library Association (PLA), supported by Microsoft Corp., is promoting tools to help job seekers in high-growth careers. PLA’s Skilling for Employment Post COVID-19 initiative connects public libraries and their communities nationwide to specialized online training and certifications, and today adds new targeted programs in Cleveland, El Paso, Memphis, and New York City.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in massive job losses, with disproportionate effects on people of color, women, younger workers, and those with less formal education. COVID-19 also has accelerated reliance on technology and digitally-enabled services, deepening the need for digital skills building. With nearly 17,000 locations in communities of all sizes, public libraries are well-positioned to address these needs. Public libraries can equip learners for today’s digital marketplace and ensure those hit by job losses direct their energies into promising career.

Free and reduced-cost offers to career learning paths, low-cost certifications, and other tools are being offered through Microsoft's global skills initiative. The combined resources by Microsoft, LinkedIn, and GitHub include:

  • LinkedIn Learning’s free learning pathways that are aligned to ten jobs that are in-demand and positioned to grow in the future, including customer service specialist and graphic designer.
  • Free LinkedIn Learning courses focused on collaboration and also on soft skills, such as teamwork, effective listening, and diversity and inclusion.
  • Microsoft Learn’s free and in-depth technical learning content, as well as GitHub Learning Lab’s practice tools, also aligned with in-demand jobs; and
  • Industry-recognized Microsoft Certifications, which are being offered at reduced cost when scheduled and completed before Dec. 31, 2021.

These free and reduced cost offers have been extended through Dec. 31, 2021. For more information, visit

Digital skills training is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to closing the digital divide. Libraries nationwide also are helping community members find low-cost home internet and device solutions with EveryoneOn’s Locator Tool and resources through PCs for People, which provides affordable computers and low-cost internet to eligible individuals.

Bringing all of these resources together in locally responsive programs, PLA and Microsoft are boosting resources through four urban library systems to reach community members impacted by COVID-19. This effort is part of an ongoing collaboration between PLA and Microsoft, with support from Microsoft Philanthropies and the company's Airband Initiative. These programs are focused on connecting communities to broadband and closing the skills gap so individuals can thrive in today's increasingly digital economy.

  • By partnering with Ohio Means Jobs of Cleveland-Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Public Library is tapping into an audience already seeking employment and career assistance. Learners who enroll with the library and Ohio Means Jobs must complete a specific series of courses (for instance, all of the soft skills courses, or a combination of in-demand job courses and other courses of their choosing). Those learners will be eligible to receive a free tablet computer as part of the grant project.
  • Participants in El Paso Public Library’s small business and entrepreneurial support program, Work PLACE (Public Literacy Access for Careers and Entrepreneurship) are an ideal audience for these new training and certification opportunities. The library is promoting the free and low-cost resources to entrepreneurs and small businesses who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Once the library buildings reopen, El Paso library staff plan to bring students together in library classrooms to complete courses, helping to create a sense of community. In addition, when hotspots are checked out, the library is including an informational postcard, directing users to EveryoneOn’s Locator Tool so they can get low-cost internet at home.
  • At Memphis Public Libraries, the initiative will complement existing job and career readiness programming and technology training. Staff plan to engage existing partners such as Dress for Success Memphis and the community service information line LINC/2-1-1 to reach individuals in need of skills training and job support. Using their JobLINK & Career Readiness Center – a 38-foot computer lab on wheels, with 10 computer stations – they will be able to meet community members where they are. In addition, the library’s annual career fair, held in the summer, will be an opportunity to promote the skilling initiative to learners and to connect them to devices and low-cost internet.
  • Through the Office Readiness Series offered by New York Public Library’s TechConnect program, learners already improve their skills in the Microsoft Office Suite beyond the novice level. Participants in the Series who take on additional coursework and certifications from Microsoft and LinkedIn will be eligible to receive a free tablet computer as part of the grant project. TechConnect staff will also train staff at branches, beginning with the Harlem branch, to incorporate the learning pathways and certifications into their programs, helping to spread the resources throughout the system, and partner with a local community organization to identify underserved populations that could benefit from the program.

Visit PLA’s Skilling for Employment Post COVID-19 website for more information and resources.

About the Public Library Association
The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 10,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders. For more information about PLA, contact the PLA office at 1 (800) 545-2433, ext. 5PLA, or