Microsoft Looks to Elevate America

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Microsoft has decided to take a very public step into the online training and education business, launching Elevate America, a new job training and skills site the company says may help up to 2 million Americans get technical skills and training “needed to succeed in the 21st-century economy.” Elevate America offerings will range from how to send email and create a résumé, but quickly progress towards training with using Microsoft applications. As part of the program, Microsoft has pledged to provide 1 million Microsoft Learning vouchers for free access to Microsoft’s eLearning courses; Microsoft is also partnering with state and local governments to get training resources where they’re needed, with the first partners being New York, Florida, and Washington State.

“Millions of Americans don’t have the technology skills needed in today’s economy,” said Microsoft global corporate affairs VP Pamela Passman, in a statement. “Through Elevate America, we want to help workers get the skills they need to succeed. We are also providing a full range of work force development resources for state and local governments so they can offer specialized training for their workers.”

The basic offerings of the Elevate America program will be available immediately, but the broader range of certification and training programs will be offered through state and local agencies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over half of today’s jobs require some sort of technology skills, and the U.S. has shed over 3.6 million jobs since the current recession got underway in earnest in late 2007. State and local governments might be looking to Elevate America has a way to get folks back to work in so-called “21st century” jobs, and will no doubt welcome any private sector effort to train or retrain workers, particular as state budgets face massive shortfalls. And, of course, Microsoft benefits by training more and more people to use Microsoft services and hardware products, and take those products into the workplaces and organizations when they’re hired.

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