WVDE Joins With Microsoft to Give West Virginia High School Students a High Tech Edge

July 15, 2014

Morgantown, W.Va. — High school students across West Virginia now have the opportunity to graduate with an informational technology (IT) certification thanks to a new collaboration between the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) and Microsoft Corp. The department selected Microsoft's IT Academy, a Microsoft YouthSpark program, for West Virginia's high schools, career and technical schools, and Virtual Schools program. The announcement was made today during the Statewide Technology Conference being held in Morgantown, West Virginia.

"Within 10 years, 60 percent of jobs that exist will be ones that don't exist today," said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Chuck Heinlein. "The IT Academy brings industry relevant technology education and software to West Virginia creating opportunities for every teacher and every student in the state to be successful now and into the future. The extent of our collaboration with Microsoft is unprecedented and our students are the true benefactors."

Microsoft IT Academy prepares educators and students with industry-recognized certifications and through the WVDE will be offered to students free of charge beginning in the fall. Students, teachers and support staff are eligible to earn Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) or Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA), and Microsoft Certified Professional certifications through the program.

"The West Virginia Department of Education is paving the path to a new way for its students to gain the technology skills needed to be better prepared for entering the workforce and furthering their careers," said Margo Day, vice president, U.S. Education, Microsoft. "The thoughtful and strategic work by the state to bring technology solutions and industry certification opportunities through IT Academy will result in more opportunities for students, lower program costs across the state, and broader access for the schools and families in West Virginia."

According to an IDC study, more than 50 percent of today's jobs require some technology skills, and experts say that the percentage will increase to 77 percent in the next decade. The gap between the demand for IT professionals and supply of qualified employees with the right technical skills is predicted to be as high as 40 percent over the next five to 10 years.

The WVDE has also launched Microsoft Office 365, a suite of tools for students and teachers for communication and collaboration. Office 365 is being made available to every student and faculty member in West Virginia's public schools. Through Microsoft's Student Advantage program, it is provided to students at no charge.

For more information, contact Liza Cordeiro in the WVDE Communication Office at 304-807-6988.

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