The Microsoft IT Academy program, meant to prepare students for a career in the growing IT industry, is now being implemented in more than 13,000 locations in 160 countries, according to Microsoft.
The program is designed to integrate into new or existing curricula for all ages and learning needs so that students can become better prepared to compete in today’s technological workplace.
A Microsoft Certification is one of the best endorsements a student can have going into a career in IT, according to Microsoft, making certified students more employable.
The program provides complementary resources and training for educators and staff, so teachers can further develop their own technological skill sets. The complimentary resources provided by Microsoft save time and money that would otherwise need to be spent seeking out this training, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft IT Academy includes lesson plans, Office software licenses, DreamSpark developer tools, E-Reference online libraries, vouchers to pay for IT certification exams, hosted communication and collaboration, and professional training for teachers. It also includes marketing materials and the right to use the Microsoft logo.
North Carolina was the first state to adopt the program in 2010, and now has Microsoft IT Academy in each of its 628 high schools. North Carolina educators insisted that the program must be equally accessible to all students.
“So whether North Carolina students are in one of the smallest, most remote high schools or in one of the larger urban high schools, every student will have the same opportunities to benefit from this program and become Microsoft trained and certified,” according to Claudine O’Leary, Global Business Development manager for Microsoft Learning, in a statement on the Microsoft website.
Georgia was the sixth state to broadly adopt the program. The Georgia (state) superintendent, Dr. John Barge, visited Fayette County High School in a rural area south of Atlanta on Sept. 5 to announce the expansion.
The Georgia Department of Education is working with Microsoft to offer classes to high school students that can lead them to formal technical certification. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, students in a few school districts were already able to take the courses, but other districts could not afford the program. The state picked up the bill, paying $600,000 to bring Microsoft IT Academy to every public high school.
“We are committed to giving Georgia students the skills they need to be ready for whatever they want to do after high school, whether it be college or a career,” said Barge in a press release. “We want to produce a technology-savvy workforce by ensuring access to these resources in every school across the state.”
By Sept. 6, nearly 200 of Georgia’s high schools had expressed a wish to join the program, according to an announcement from the state department of education. All 463 public high schools and all 460,000 public high school students in Georgia will have the chance to participate.
Starting in 2013, Georgia schools will offer Career Pathways, in which students will choose a career area while in school and take classes tailored to their intended professions. Microsoft IT Academy will be part of that initiative.
“The IT Academy will help build a pipeline of innovators in Georgia as the program helps students gain interest in STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering, and math—and spur ideas for how they can be applied in the real world,” said Cameron Evans, Chief Technology Officer for U.S. Education, Microsoft, in a press release. “Students will be able to graduate high school with industry credentials that are globally recognized in the business world.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 77 percent of jobs will require IT skills by the end of this decade. Today, more than half of all jobs require the skills.
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