Microsoft has launched an ambitious program designed to help provide technology training to millions of citizens. The news comes during a growing, worldwide economic crisis that has seen rising unemployment in the U.S.
Elevate America, announced Sunday, has two major components.
First is the Elevate America Web site run by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and available now. The online resource is designed to help people figure out what types of technical skills they need for jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities available today and in the future. Resources to help acquire the skills necessary to find these jobs are also included.
The site includes Microsoft-specific content and access to several Microsoft online training programs on how to use specific Microsoft applications. More basic training material is also included, such as instruction on how to use the Internet, send e-mail and create a résumé.
Also, Microsoft said it is partnering with state and local governments so that they in turn can make these resources available at local levels. Florida, New York and Washington will be the first states to provide Elevate America to their residents, Microsoft said.
Florida Governor Charlie Crist said that the success of the Elevate Miami program in his state is proof that public-private partnerships can work and benefit citizens. "We have worked with Microsoft for years in Miami to bring technology training to underserved populations," he said in a release. "Now, with Elevate America, we have the opportunity to bring these important skills to even more people, at a time when they are needed more than ever."
As part of the progam, Microsoft said it plans to provide a million Microsoft Learning vouchers for free access to Microsoft eLearning courses and select certification exams.
"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," said Pamela Passman, corporate vice president of Microsoft Global Corporate Affairs.
Microsoft said that more than half of today's jobs require some technology skills, and that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that figure will reach 77 percent in the next decade.