By Margo Day, Vice President, U.S. Education, Microsoft
Yesterday, at the Bellevue Library, I had the pleasure of announcing Microsoft’s partnership with the Washington State Library to bring Microsoft’s IT Academy
online training to more than 380 libraries statewide. The industry-leading technology training will be available to Washingtonians to help prepare them for success in a global workplace that grows more tech-dependent each day.
Technology is everywhere, and one out of two jobs today requires some degree of technology skills. In less than 10 years this number will increase to three out of every four jobs requiring IT skills. Meanwhile, according to Pew Research Center, among 18- to 34-year-olds who are employed, less than half say they have the education and training necessary to get ahead in their job or career.
Last month, my colleague, Cameron Evans wrote about the findings of a recent IDC study conducted to help us better understand the skills that employers will see as most valuable now and through 2020. The results indicated that modern skills such as communication, problem solving, and self-motivation mixed with the technical Microsoft Office skills like presentation, spreadsheets, and analysis are necessary to secure a job in a high growth, high wage occupation.
Washington is one of 10 states that has adopted Microsoft IT Academy to help students develop these important skills. It began offering IT Academy in Washington public schools across the state in September 2011. Since that time, more than 16,000 certifications have been earned by Washington public school students and teachers, with nearly 11,600 of those earned in the 2012-13 school year.
Students are not the only ones who need to develop these skills. Many adults face the challenge of having never learned many of the technology skills that are present in some of the fastest-growing industries. Others may have learned the skills through experience, but without proper certification demonstrating a certain level of mastery, these people are at a disadvantage and may have trouble when competing with others who are certified. With the launch of the Washington State Library Microsoft IT Academy, Washington becomes the first state to offer the IT Academy program through both its high schools and its libraries. Through IT Academy, Washingtonians have access to free training in three levels of technology courses: basic digital literacy proficiencies, Microsoft Office training, and advanced skills for IT professionals. Participants can achieve certification, which is at the participant’s expense, following successful completion of a series of courses by testing at certification centers, or they may choose to complete selected courses without certification. The IT Academy training program is now available at public libraries and tribal libraries and will be available at the beginning of winter quarter at community and technical college libraries.
There are 15,000 IT Academy institutions in 130 countries around the world, reaching 8.5 million students and educators every year. Over the last twelve months, we issued 1.4 million certifications and we are seeing
daily examples of success. At a time when everyone needs these types of skills to succeed in their economic future, Microsoft’s IT Academy provides a vital path to employment, and we are proud to make this available to everyone in Washington.