Microsoft issues vouchers for online training
By Tom Abate, Chronicle Staff Writer
March 11, 2010
Microsoft Corp. will offer thousands of Californians free training in its office software programs and distribute 18,500 vouchers to provide computer professionals with a no-cost way to upgrade their skills under a program introduced Wednesday in Mountain View.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger visited the company's Mountain View offices to thank local Microsoft chief Dan'l Lewin for including California in the free training program, called Elevate America, which has already begun in 12 other states.
"We appreciate it so much I wanted to come here myself," he told an auditorium packed with Microsoft employees.
Yvonne Thomas, senior manager of the Microsoft program, said the plan will offer 74,000 vouchers entitling Californians to take free online classes to make them proficient with Microsoft Word, Office, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook or Windows Vista.
Vouchers will be made available on a first-come, first-served basis through One-Stop Career Centers run by state and local authorities. Working Californians as well as the unemployed are eligible.
One general e-learning voucher would be required to take Word training, a second for Office, etc. Each course takes six to eight hours to complete. Applicants must have access to a computer with an Internet connection to take the online training.
After completing the course, applicants can obtain a second certification exam voucher to take a free proficiency test from Certiport, a company working with Microsoft. Another 74,000 testing vouchers are available so applicants who complete the online training can also take the exam needed to earn a certificate and list the skill on their resume.
In addition, Microsoft is making 18,500 IT professional learning vouchers available to help people in the computer field upgrade their skills.
Each advanced voucher is good for a free class on the path to certification as a Windows Web developer, systems administrator, database administrator, systems engineer or server administrator.
To find the nearest One-Stop center, go to www.servicelocator.org and type in your ZIP code. A spot check of centers in the Bay Area found that the offices that will be handing out the vouchers were not yet clear on the details of the program, so call before showing up.
Those who have never visited a One-Stop center will have to bring proof of legal right to work, such as a Social Security card, green card or passport, plus a photo ID such as a driver's license to register for this program or other job-hunting assistance.
Microsoft has already made 475,000 training vouchers available through the program and plans to help 2 million people nationwide get free training over the next two years.