With millions of Americans unemployed and uncertain about how to pursue new careers, Microsoft's new Elevate America program seems perfectly timed. The company announced this week that it will provide up to two million people with free technology training over the next three years to prepare them for the new marketplace in IT.
The program has several components. The first, a web site, is designed to educate job seekers about the types of work that will be in demand and help them figure out how to go about getting the needed skills.
Building on Microsoft's existing initiatives to bring hi-tech training to underserved populations, the company will also partner with state and local governments to offer training at the community level. The existing Unlimited Potential Community Technology Skills Program will provide a road map for this training.
Microsoft will also provide one million Microsoft Learning vouchers good for free courses from the company's eLearning catalog.
Understanding information technology is no longer preparation for an IT career; it's an important qualification for marketers, those in manufacturing, logistics, retail, small business, human resources, investment, and most other well-paying job. To understand IT is to understand modern business, and those who are savvy about IT will have a huge advantage when job hunting.
Kudos to Microsoft for taking this initiative, now when we need it most.