The global pandemic severely impacted our global economy and many small- to medium-size organizations had to adapt to stay in business. As a result, we’ve seen smaller organizations make technology decisions quickly while rethinking how to use digital tools better for their organization — not only to overcome roadblocks, but to stay ahead of the curve.

At Microsoft, we’re committed to empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. As part of that commitment, we’re supporting post-pandemic recovery and working to build an inclusive, skills-based economy. Last summer, we launched our global skills initiative, which has helped more than 30 million individuals worldwide learn new digital skills.

Today, we’re expanding these efforts to also help small- to medium-size organizations develop the right skills to achieve their goals. By centralizing skill-building resources and working with local organizations to offer impactful support, we’re making it easier and more accessible for small- to medium-size businesses to build a strong foundation of digital skills so they can take full advantage of their technology for long-term success in a digitally enabled economy.

Small organizations face big challenges

As a pillar to their communities, it’s critical that small- and medium-size businesses continue providing the jobs and services that contribute to a thriving local — and global — economy. Digital tools are essential to helping these businesses respond to changes in the market, streamline their organization, protect against threats and plan for long-term resiliency.

However, one in five small businesses and nearly one in three medium-size businesses say a lack of employee skills has been their biggest challenge in responding to the pandemic. With high customer expectations for digital literacy — and a surge in connected digital experiences — small- and medium-size businesses need to continuously learn new ways to use technology for greater customer connection, efficiency and agility.

Moreover, businesses in underrepresented groups and communities — many of which experience disparities in access to capital, education and employment — face an even larger skills gap. This past year’s closures, declines in sales and reduced workforce has resulted in overwhelming risks to these organizations.

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