DWS, Microsoft Partner to Offer Free Software Training, Certification

The Department of Workforce Services recently announced its partnership with Microsoft to offer free Microsoft software training and certification to Arkansans.

Microsoft launched the Elevate America Initiative in an effort to enhance the technical job skills of Americans, thus increasing their workforce readiness, according to a DWS press release. As part of the public-private partnership, DWS is partnering with Microsoft to launch the Microsoft Elevate America Initiative in Arkansas.

As a result, Arkansas will receive free vouchers for online training and certification, including 6,000 Business Worker E-Learning vouchers, which provide online training on how to use Microsoft Office 2003 or Windows Vista and Office 2007 software such as Excel, Word and Outlook, as well as 6,000 Business Certification Exam Vouchers for those who want to become certified in a particular Office program.

The partnership will also provide 1,500 IT Professional e-learning vouchers, which are for IT professionals who are interested in advanced training for careers in areas such as Web development and database management. Courses include development software such as Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2005.

"We are extremely excited to partner with Microsoft to offer another resource and tool for Arkansans who want to improve their skills for 21st century jobs," said Artee Williams, DWS director. "The free training and certification will give dislocated workers, unemployed individuals and other job seekers the opportunity to obtain computer skills that can help them find meaningful employment."

Arkansas must distribute the 13,500 vouchers by Aug. 22. Those wanting to only go through the e-learning series must activate their vouchers by Aug. 22, but will have 12 months to access the training once their voucher has been activated by going to the Microsoft Elevate America website.

Training can be done from any computer that has Internet access.

The vouchers will be distributed online on a first-come, first-served basis and are available to all Arkansans. To request a voucher, go to ElevateAmerica.ar.gov.

Those using the certification exam vouchers will receive a no-cost exam in one program, such as Excel, Word, Outlook, etc. in either Office 2003 or Office 2007. The exam vouchers come pre-activated, and the exams must be taken by Aug. 22 at a Certiport Testing Center. The Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges and Goodwill Industries of Arkansas are partnering with DWS to provide this testing. Those receiving the exam vouchers will be given further information on where the centers are located. A nominal Certiport Testing Location proctoring fee may apply. If they pass the certification exam, they will receive a certificate from Microsoft that can be presented to potential employers.