Microsoft, Puerto Rico Government Sign Collaborative Agreement
Seek to Train, Certify Unemployed People in Digital Skills
The governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro R. Pierluisi, Labor Secretary Gabriel Maldonado-González and executives from technology giant Microsoft have signed a collaborative agreement that provides training for “people who are currently unemployed” to become “certified by the company within a twoyear period.”
The initiative, called “Digital Skills for Employability” (“Habilidades Digitales para la Empleabilidad,” in Spanish), will “foster the reintegration of more citizens into the labor market, as well as community training,” a statement from the governor’s office reads.
The program includes “the development of a basic curriculum for learning digital skills, such as: remote work, data management, communication, presentations and online personal branding, among others. In addition, the initiative covers the development of advanced courses related to programming, data analysis and artificial intelligence.”
“Currently, we have the lowest unemployment statistics in history and we want to continue creating more job opportunities for everyone, and encourage insertion in the labor force,” Pierluisi said in the press release. “Knowledge and skills in technological and digital matters are increasingly relevant when looking for a job or doing business. This is why this agreement between the Department of Labor and the Microsoft company is so important to provide the necessary tools to thousands of people who will be able to benefit from digital training courses and we are pleased to make this opportunity viable for them.”
According to the Labor Department’s most recent data, the seasonally adjusted unemployment figure stood at 78,000 people in April, or 2,000 fewer people than the 80,000 in March. Compared with April last year, when 92,000 people were unemployed, 14,000 people found jobs on the island over that one-year period.
In April this year, according to seasonally unadjusted data, the percentage distribution of unemployed people looking for work by weeks was: less than five weeks, 45.1 percent; five to 14 weeks, 34.3 percent; and 15 weeks and more, 20.6 percent.
“The Microsoft company will train personnel from the Auxiliary Secretariat for Training and Employment Promotion (Saape by its Spanish acronym) so that they can offer the courses, which will be virtual, although there will be a laboratory room equipped with computers for those who need it in the Labor Department. The Labor
Department will announce the beginning of the courses and the registration process shortly,” the release says.
“This alliance represents a valuable opportunity to empower thousands of people who are currently looking for a job opportunity,” the Labor secretary stressed. “In fact, all unemployed citizens will qualify for these workshops that will be certified by the multinational computer company. Our desire is that they obtain the tools that allow them to integrate into the world of work, creating their own company or working for an employer, to share this knowledge in their communities.”
Other aspects that the Labor Department, Microsoft and Trust for the Americas—a nonprofit affiliate of the Organization of American States that will also collaborate in the initiative and is dedicated to promoting economic, social and political development in Latin America and the Caribbean—will work on are: “comprehensive virtual training for the development of digital skills, such as: ‘learn to learn,’ communication and conflict resolution, teamwork, adaptation to change, creation of public value, and innovation and creativity.”
“Microsoft invests in initiatives that drive socioeconomic transformation in the countries where we operate, including Puerto Rico. It is part of our mission to empower every person and every organization to achieve more,” said Mariana Castro, vice president of sales, marketing and operations for Microsoft Latin America.
“This initiative with the Department of Labor allows us to provide courses and training in digital skills and information on job opportunities, demand for technical skills and other trends in the technology labor market so that all people, and especially those who find themselves in a situation of vulnerability and unemployment, can expand their job opportunities,” Castro added.
For his part, Herbert Lewy, general manager at Microsoft Caribbean, said: “We believe that technology will be essential to empower the Puerto Rican workforce of the present and the future.
For this reason, this agreement is of vital importance to increase the possibilities of all citizens and combat unemployment, integrating into a new economy based on skills.”
According to the most recent publication of the Skills and Occupations in Greatest Demand Survey, which corresponds to 2020 and was published by the Labor Department in December 2021, of the 4,000 employers surveyed, 60.6 percent of the people hired were required to be familiar with the use of computers, or 36.8 percent, while 23.8 percent were expected to master certain applications.
The study also showed that punctuality and responsibility (83.9 percent), the ability to follow instructions (80.1 percent) and to work well in a team (66.6 percent) are most in demand. In addition, oral and written communication (60.4 percent) and the ability to learn (55.1 percent) are also sought by employers.
The five tasks that respondents required most of their latest hires were: comply with their schedules (81.1 percent), speak to customers (71.8 percent), work in a group or team (71.5 percent), manage assigned priorities (65.5 percent ) and know basic arithmetic (59.2 percent).