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New PLA initiative helps public libraries prepare communities for in-demand jobs

CHICAGO – The Public Library Association (PLA) and Microsoft are teaming up to promote tools for libraries to support job seekers in growth careers. Since 2018, PLA and Microsoft have been collaborating to help libraries, often in rural communities, secure needed equipment such as hotspots, connect families to low-cost internet plans, and offer programs to teach community members technology skills. With Microsoft’s generous support, PLA’s newest initiative will focus on connecting community members to online training and certifications that can lead to new and improved employment in the post-COVID economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in massive job losses, with the biggest brunt borne by people with disabilities, people of color, women, younger workers, and those with less formal education. COVID-19 has also accelerated reliance on technology and digitally-enabled services, portending a jobs recovery that requires an increasing focus on digital skills. Public libraries can act now to ensure those hit by job losses direct their energies into promising career paths and develop the high-demand skills for today’s marketplace.

PLA encourages public library staff to learn about, promote and incorporate into programming the new learning paths, low-cost certifications, and other tools being offered by Microsoft, LinkedIn Learning, and GitHub. These include:

  • LinkedIn Learning’s new learning pathways, free through March 2021, 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 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 before December 31, 2020, and completed before March 31, 2021.

As part of this initiative, on November 5, 2020, PLA held a free webinar, 150 Million New Technology-Oriented Jobs and the Skills Needed to Get Them, which featured an overview of Microsoft’s initiatives, as well as examples of workforce development programming at the Washington State Library and the Kenton County (KY) Public Library.

“The value of certification is increasingly recognized as the best way to validate a specific skillset acquired through non-traditional learning,” said Elizabeth Iaukea, workforce development librarian at the Washington State Library. “It’s especially useful for entry-level positions and career changers as a way to prove continuous learning and growth.” Iaukea shared learnings from the state’s “Learn. Practice. Certify.” initiative as part of the webinar.

In addition to the webinar, PLA will be working with libraries nationwide to reach communities hard hit by COVID-19 to create awareness of these opportunities and incentives to participate. Questions about the initiative and resources may be directed to Scott Allen, PLA Deputy Director at [email protected]

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 [email protected].

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