Upskilling Program for Sports and Entertainment Launched by IIFX, Microsoft and Intel

JACKSON, Mississippi — February 24 — Everything was upended during the pandemic. 20,636 sporting events were canceled including the Indianapolis 500, and professional, collegiate, and youth competitions. The sports and entertainment industries lost 9.3 million jobs—nearly three million jobs in entertainment alone. Even with the return of jobs in these sectors, 47% of leisure and sports and entertainment workers plan to leave their current job within the next few months.

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Recognizing the challenges of these workers as we emerge from the pandemic, Intel, Microsoft, the Innovation Institute for Fan Experience (IIFX), in cooperation with the National Minority Emerging and Innovative Technologies Consortium, are launching a skills initiative for the sports and entertainment industry. This joint initiative addresses this skills gap and provides sports and entertainment workers with a path for upward professional mobility.

Initiative sponsors are partnering with industry leaders such as the National Football League to enable the sports and entertainment industry workers to develop new skills, use their talents, and prepare them to return to work and to connect skilled workers to in-demand roles.

As the world reopens and the economy recovers, a key to filling new jobs is ensuring that workers have the digital skills to qualify and succeed. Critical to an inclusive recovery is providing engaging opportunities to develop these essential skills to the people hardest hit by job losses, including lower income workers, women, and underserved and underrepresented groups. “As part of Intel’s corporate responsibility 2030 goals, we are determined to make technology fully inclusive and expand digital readiness worldwide,” said Rick Echevarria, VP and GM of Intel’s Intel RISE Technology Initiative. “Technology is a force for good, and we aim to reach 30 million people in 30,000 institutions in 30 countries. This is one of the ways we fulfill our core purpose of creating world-changing technology that enriches the life of every person on Earth. We can only achieve this by partnering with others and creating new solutions to these dynamic problems together.”

Pandemic constraints demonstrate that people can benefit from individualized training from anywhere. Upskilling can professionalize and help retain an expert workforce, providing colleagues with transferable, highly marketable skills.

“The pandemic has taken a significant toll on our industry’s workforce, causing a tremendous amount of turnover among seasoned employees” said Jim Mercurio, Executive Vice President and General Manager at Levi’s Stadium. “Facing unprecedented challenges to fill current staffing needs, the IIFX-Microsoft-Intel training initiative can help our sports and entertainment industry enhance recruitment of new workers and provide added value to our existing workforce to meet current and future needs. We look forward to participating in this program.” 

This training initiative is open to sports and entertainment workers, including third-party providers. The program will provide access to online curated content to help workers grow their skills, increase their competency, and enhance their capabilities for current and future roles. It provides online learning and credentialing through LinkedIn and Microsoft.

Initiative sponsors will partner with the National Minority Emerging and Innovative Technologies Consortium. Funds will make LinkedIn Learning licenses available to stadium/venue workers.

To get involved, contact IIFX, at [email protected].

About the Innovation Institute for Fan Experience

Founded in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic by veteran industry leaders, IIFX’s vision is to be the leading and most trusted global authority on providing safety, security and fan experience for sports and entertainment. With offices in the USA, UK and Canada, IIFX produces content, events, and facilitates dialogue and collaboration in in the sports and entertainment industry around its core areas of expertise. Visit: for more.

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