Today, we are very excited to share the news that Washington state and the Commonwealth of Virginia are officially launching statewide Microsoft IT Academy programs to all high school students to make sure they graduate with IT skills they need to compete for jobs. Technology skills are increasingly required to obtain all kinds of jobs, and that trend is only going to continue. The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that 77% of American jobs will require technology skills in the next decade. Microsoft IT Academy not only gives students an advantage by equipping them with the industry-recognized IT skills they need for successful careers, it also connects learning to their lives and makes education relevant in their world.
While North Carolina was the first to rollout IT Academy statewide last year, Washington becomes the largest program in the nation reaching more than 300,000 high school students and 19,000 teachers in more than 700 high schools, skills centers and tribal schools. In Virginia, Governor McDonnell announced a similar statewide rollout designed to give students the technology skills and literacy needed and ensure equality of access to critical skills regardless of a school’s location, size or economic status.
Bridging Education with the World of Work
The Microsoft IT Academy program includes training and certification in a number of Microsoft products, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as advanced topics, including programming, web development, and database development. It also gives teachers access to professional development resources that help them learn and take advantage of the latest technology. Once students have completed the Microsoft IT Academy training, they can become certified in their area of study to earn industry-recognized Microsoft Office Specialist, Microsoft Technology Associate, or Microsoft Certified Professional certifications. These credentials can help give students an edge, helping them earn early college credits, or by getting a step ahead in today’s competitive job market.
Today, Microsoft IT Academy has more than 10,000 members in 160 countries globally. We know the program works and that students in this program have outperformed their peers on standardized tests. Microsoft has certified almost 6 million people around the world in nearly two decades, underscoring the marketplace demand for Microsoft certified professionals.
To give you an example, at Dunbar High school in Florida, one of the early adopters of the Microsoft IT Academy, students have earned more than 1,750 IT certifications. And the majority, approximately 85%, of the students that have been enrolled in that program for all 4 years continue on to post-secondary education studies.
From a student perspective, the Microsoft IT Academy makes a big difference. Miranda Hill, a student who was the first to earn a Microsoft Office Specialist certification at Spring Creek High School in North Carolina, recently won the student U.S. Competition on Microsoft Office. In her words, “Earning certification is an incredible resume and confidence booster. These certifications will give me a “leg up” in the job market because employers are looking for these types of certifications.” You can learn more about the success in North Carolina here.
With the statewide IT Academy adoptions, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington are setting a trend and an example for other states to follow to ensure their students graduate high school…college and career ready. We applaud these states for being in the forefront to prepare the next generation workforce with important skills that will define our future. Congratulations!
General Manager, U.S. Education, Microsoft