With somewhat unusual timing, Microsoft announced on Sunday, February 22, a new job training program called “Elevate America” that aims to proffer technical skills training to lots of Americans (as many as two million according to an annoucement-day news posting on CNET) over the next three years. Readers curious about the program can check it out at www.microsoft.com/elevateamerica (the actual URL is linked to this abbreviated “pseudo-URL” here).
The primary components of this program may be described as follows:
- a phased roll-out, starting in Microsoft’s home base in Washington state, that includes free certification and training, with an emphasis on the unemployed, underemployed, and high-school and college level student populations. According to the CNET story, “Microsoft is working with state and local governments and hopes to offer 1 million vouchers for e-learning and certification classes.”
- An online Website that describes basic skills related to crafting a resume, sending e-mail, and computer literacy training of all kinds. Microsoft will offer this material primarily through local partnerships with non-profits and government agencies at all levels, though some free training is also available online as well (for example Computer Basics, a listing of all basic courses is available on the Course Topics page, and instructor manuals and materials are also available).
What’s not yet clear is how much material will be available online and how much will require interaction with the “Unlimited Potential Community Technology Centers” (CTCs) that Microsoft plans to designate as its local training delivery partners all over the country. Of course, the program is one day old as I write this blog, so there are lots of things left that need to be worked and spelled out in more detail. It’s an interesting and promising start for a program that shows uncommon sensitivity to the current economic situation here in the US, even if it is backed up by a shrewd appreciation that training in specific tools is likely to spur their continued use in the workplace thereafter.
“Elevate America” should be an interesting program to watch, though–and watch it I will!