Nov 26,2020

Partner Skills Initiative

How to attract and retain talent with the Partner Skills Initiative

By Liz Penning, UK Partner Skills Lead

As Partner Skills Lead, working closely with partners, one of the things I realise we have in common is our passion to ensure employees have the skills to drive business goals and to help our customers succeed.

It’s also one of the biggest challenges we face today. Attracting and retaining the best talent is the top emerging risk organisations face globally, according to Gartner.

We need to support both new and current employees in both re-skilling and up-skilling their digital skills. To do this successfully we need to work together to create a culture of continuous learning. This can include such things as an effective learning plan built with your HR function, empowering your employees to build learning time into their working hours or creating a learning rewards programme. By creating a positive learning culture within your business you’ll be supporting your current employees to maintain and improve, as well as attract and hire top talent.

Because I’m so passionate about all our partners succeeding in this, I’m excited to share our Partner Skills Initiative. We want to help you create new talent for the future, as well as retain and re-skill your current employees. We want to give you the opportunity to stay at the forefront of cloud and new technologies to help inspire our joint customers.

The programme aims to give you best practices, tools, and learning options, as well as ongoing support to ensure you futureproof your organisation. It covers the full Microsoft stack of products as well as readying for different job roles. The programme focuses on three areas; assess, learn, and grow.


Where are you on your digital transformation journey?

The first step is to assess. It’s important to know where you are in your digital transformation – both from a business and technical perspective and to know your starting point and benchmark.

The Partner Transformation Readiness Assessment was created to help you do exactly this. It only takes about 25 minutes to complete, and at the end it gives you recommendations and resources you can use to advance your organisation. If you have been working with your Partner Team on the Partner Transformation Index, then please continue to do so and create your plan for moving forward together.


Learn new skills for the future

Included in the Partner Skills Initiative is an online training centre designed to aid in the re-skilling and up-skilling of your employees. They can use this to learn new skills in new technology areas and by new job roles, for example a sales person moving into a technical role.

Our online partner training centre offers ongoing role-based learning pathways and training recommendations based on the job role, skill level, and technology.


Embrace a culture of continuous learning

Just as your organisation will grow with your new culture of continuous learning, our initiative will too. We’ll provide continuous updates to the learning resources, in-person and virtual live events, and best practices to support you.

Also, to help grow your business and talent, we have created a new Partner Talent Playbook to help partners understand how to recruit, hire, develop and retain talent.

Coupled with the Microsoft Apprenticeships Programme, these are great resources and programmes for the UK to fill the digital skills gap and for businesses to build their talent pipeline and invest in the future of their workforce. Apprenticeships are a great opportunity for young people to develop the skills they need to succeed in the future of work through hands-on learning. They’re good for businesses and the UK economy too. With an ever-growing digital skills gap, there’s never been a better time to invest in the workforce of the future.

Business leaders

Often business leaders’ learning requirements are overlooked and so I am pleased to also announce the AI Business School. The business school complements the Partner Skills Initiative but is focused purely on AI and is commercially designed to get executives ready to lead their organisation on a journey of AI transformation.

The school is a deep dive into how to develop a strategy and identify blockers before they happen as you implement AI in your organisation. Mitra Azizirad, Corporate Vice President for AI Marketing at Microsoft explains: “Developing a strategy for AI extends beyond the business issues. It goes all the way to the leadership, behaviours, and capabilities required to instil an AI-ready culture in your organisation.”

On the road to developing a strategy, executives and other business leaders are often stalled by questions about how and where to begin implementing AI across their companies. They ponder the cultural changes that AI requires companies to make, and how to build and use AI in ways that are responsible, protect privacy and security, and comply with government rules and regulations.

Launching Microsoft’s AI Business School will help business leaders navigate these questions. The free online courses, built in partnership with INSEAD, is a masterclass series that aims to empower leaders to advance with confidence in the age of AI.

Helping you futureproof your organisation

I believe the best way to move into this tech-driven future is by equipping your workforce with the skills needed to drive innovation, knowledge, and empowerment.

That is why I’m proud to be able to share these initiatives with you. The Partner Skills Initiative and AI Business School are part of our plan to help equip the UK partner ecosystem with the skills to succeed in the future.

You can also show that you share this vision by signing our Partner Pledge. This is where partners can reaffirm their commitment to helping the UK build the skills we need for our digital future.

Explore our resources:

Readiness Assessment

Online Partner Training Centre

Partner Talent Playbook

Microsoft Apprenticeship Programme

AI Business School

Partner Pledge

About the author

Liz Penning is our Partner Skills Lead, within Partner Business and Development in One Commercial Partner UK. Her role is focused on setting the UK strategy for partner learning and executing on this. This can be anything from working on training events such as workshops, hacks and hands-on labs, all the way to landing new programmes, such as the Partner Skills Initiative, and working on plans with our partners to help grow a continuous learning culture. Liz also leads the Apply section of our Digital Skills Programme, which focuses on Apprenticeships for partners and customers.

Having been at Microsoft for nine years, she has lots of experience working with our network of partners. Over that time, there has been one consistent message, which is the lack of skills within the market. Skills have a direct correlation to the growth of our partners’ and customers’ businesses and if we can help provide them with the right resources and programmes to engage in learning and new talent, we will get that one step closer to closing the skills gap together. Liz is extremely passionate about Early in Career and diversity – there are many young people who need that extra help to realise their potential, regardless of their background or situation.