Microsoft on Wednesday launched Future Ready Talent, an internship program for undergraduate students.

With this, the tech giant will bring together a strategic group of partners to help India’s youth with technology skills for employability. A collaborative internship program for students in their second year of college and upwards, the initiative aims to impact over 1.5 lakh higher education students who will join the workforce between 2022-2024.

Collaborative effort

Under the program, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), FutureSkills Prime – a NASSCOM and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) digital skilling initiative, Ernst & Young (EY), GitHub, and Quess Corp along with Microsoft will provide a holistic skilling platform.

As part of the collaboration, Microsoft will provide learning modules and certifications through its learning platform, Microsoft Learn, skilling students on topics like cloud computing, data & AI, and cybersecurity. AICTE will ensure the curriculum is aligned to the National Education Policy, 2020. SSC NASSCOM will provide alignment of relevant courses to the National Occupational Standards, linking these courses on FutureSkills Prime while EY will provide the technology and industry mentorship to students during their internship tenure.

GitHub will help students with free access to developer tools via the GitHub Student Developer Pack, as well as the opportunity to collaborate on projects with other developers on GitHub. Quess Corp will manage the learner experience and host a virtual career fair for participants, exposing them to career opportunities across the Microsoft customer and partner ecosystem.

Learner centric

The Future Ready Talent program has been designed keeping the learner at the centre, Microsoft said. The program has a Learn-Apply-Implement framework, offering students an end-to-end experience, from digital skilling to working on critical projects in a sandbox environment, to mentoring with industry experts and access to potential employers.

Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India, said, “India’s youth is among the country’s biggest competitive advantages. Empowering this talent with the right skills to be self-reliant will be foundational to our long-term growth. The Future Ready Talent Program provides a holistic skilling experience that connects learners with new job opportunities. We are proud to collaborate with a strong set of partners for this program, who are deeply committed to building a vibrant skilling ecosystem in the country.”

NEP 2020

Dr. Anil Sahasrabudhe, Chairman, AICTE, said, “The National Education Policy 2020 has a clear focus on encouraging experiential learning and critical thinking among students. The Future Ready Talent program builds on this approach with Microsoft’s industry-leading technology and skilling resources. The program, with its unique model, allows students to not just acquire skills that are in demand, but also test their skills by solving critical projects and get an opportunity to learn from industry experts. Access to digital skills will be at the core of making India a skilled economy and we are committed to playing a strong role in that journey.”

Kirti Seth, CEO, SSC NASSCOM, said, “The goal of creating a future-ready workforce is more a team India effort, than the duty of a single stakeholder. FutureSkills Prime is delighted to extend its support for such a unique initiative built with the joint forces of industry and academia, keeping the needs of learner at the heart of its design. Programs like these are what will help us leap ahead towards our goal of creating an India that is a #DigitalTalentNation much sooner than we expect.”

Digital economy

Rajiv Memani, Chairman India Region, EY, said, “As we rapidly move towards a digital economy, technical skill sets are evolving faster than ever, requiring people to become agile learners and solve complex challenges using technology. This program will empower the young talent to enhance and test their digital knowledge through real-life projects and learn directly from industry experts.”

Maneesh Sharma, General Manager, GitHub India, said: “Providing students with access to the best developer tools through the GitHub Student Developer Pack, as well as enabling them to collaborate on projects with other developers on GitHub, will help them build the right skills future developers need to succeed. The more we can all do to equip the developers, innovators, and solution builders of tomorrow, the brighter our future will look.”

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Sekhar Garisa, President, Emerging Businesses & Chief of Strategy, Quess Corp, said “Nurturing the skills of the youth of the country is an important national priority. The post pandemic era will be a digital first economy and right investment on developing talent at scale and empowering them with job-ready skills is critical to fully leverage the opportunities of the future. As a thought leader in talent discovery and employment creation, we are honoured to partner with industry leaders in creating this platform.”

Registrations open

Eligible students can apply for the internship program by visiting the Future Ready Talent website and registering for open batches. The registration for the first batch will start on September 15, 2021.

In early 2020, Microsoft launched a global skilling initiative to help 25 million people worldwide acquire new digital skills. Over 3 million people have been skilled in India so far through this initiative. The tech major is working closely with the government, industry and civil society partners on several skilling initiatives.