In browsing through the latest posts on Microsoft’s Born to Learn blog, I came across an item from Lorna White entitled “Prepare Your Students for Successful Careers.” In it she notes that the two recently-resuscitated “big name” Microsoft certifications — namely, the MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer) and the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert) — will be “now available through Microsoft IT Academies.” Why is this a big deal? Let’s take a detour to visit the IT Academy program to help me clarify my contention…
Understanding the Microsoft IT Academy Program
MS itself defines the program as
“…a college- and career-ready education program available to all accredited academic institutions, designed to provide students with the 21st century technology skills necessary to acquire certification and be competitive in today’s rapidly evolving workplace. The IT Academy Program also provides educators and staff with professional development opportunities. This subscription-based membership offers a world-class technology curriculum with lesson plans, E-learning, student projects, and assessments. To date there are more than 10,000 IT Academy members in more than 160 countries.”
In North America, many high schools and community colleges are IT Academy members, as are an increasing number of vocational training programs and even four-year and graduate school programs as well. The IT Academy Program enables these institutions to integrate MS training and certification components into their conventional curriculum, and to propel students toward certification as well as certificates of completion, diplomas, and degrees.
What’s Up with the MS IT Academy and MS Certifications?
Previous incarnations of the IT Academy have focused on Microsoft’s lower-level certifications, especially its Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) and Microsoft Office Specialist credentials, with some limited forays into the soon-to-be-defunct Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS), Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP), and Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) credentials also available through this program. This latest announcement may seem trivial, but it essentially includes the mainstay certifications in the Microsoft programs in this mix (and because the MCSA, or Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate, is a pre-requisite for the MCSE, also perforce brings that credential into the Academy line-up as well).
In short, this means that some high-school graduates may very well add an MCSE or MCSD to their diploma when they leave secondary school. It also surely means that many two- and four-year degree earners will also walk away with one (or perhaps more) of these credentials when they matriculate. This is not just good for the individuals involved, but also helps to establish and cement the value of the Microsoft credentials involved, too. Readers with kids in school, or with relatives in high school or college, may want to point those young people at these offerings and encourage them to investigate their opportunities to participate in learning that could help contribute to future earnings, and a better shot at an enduring IT career. Need I say more?