Microsoft seeks to Elevate the nation's tech skills

At the National Governors Association conference in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, Microsoft announced a program to teach basic and intermediate computer skills to, potentially, millions of Americans. The three-year Elevate America program will include one million vouchers for Microsoft eLearning courses as well as for select certification exams.

The vouchers will be distributed through state and local governments' workforce development programs. Microsoft originally planned to launch the initiative in three states -- Washington, New York and Florida -- but by the end of the day Sunday California, Colorado, Delaware, Minnesota and Virginia had climbed aboard too.

Microsoft says it expects to reach approximately 2 million citizens with Elevate America over the next three years.

Interested parties can also get online, if they are able to get themselves online, and check out a new Microsoft mini-site with information on basic computer skills (e.g., sending email or creating a resume) and resources for picking those skills up. The Elevate America site also has information for students and -- perhaps more to the taste of Betanews readers -- information on various intermediate-level certification programs, including the Second Shot do-over option.

That site is online now. The rest of the program will begin in the various states over the next few months.

Washington governor Christine Gregoire, taking an opportunity to cheer on the home team, praised Microsoft for stepping up during tough times as what the company is describing (without releasing specific numbers) as "significant cost."

"Elevate America is a great example of Microsoft's leadership on education and workforce development -- issues that bring us a step closer to recovery by helping us provide critically important help to our citizens," said Gregoire. "Washington state is pleased to be one of the first states to partner with Microsoft to provide Elevate America to our residents."

Microsoft will post updates on Elevate America -- including news of the addition of more states to the program -- to its Twitter account.

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