/PRNewswire/ -- Building on its Elevate America program to provide technology training to help prepare people for 21st-century jobs, Microsoft Corp. today announced an initiative to bring together a coalition of public, private and nonprofit organizations to give veterans and their spouses the skills and resources they need to be successful in today's civilian work force.
Microsoft will contribute $2 million in cash and up to $6 million in software over the next two years to support programs for members of the armed services and their spouses who are separating from the military and reintegrating into their civilian communities and the work force. Through a competitive funding process, Microsoft will award cash, software and other resources to eligible organizations, including veterans service organizations, work force agencies, community colleges and other nonprofit organizations. The initiative will provide veterans and their spouses with the support they need to be successful in their transition to civilian careers, including technology skills training, job placement, career counseling and other support services such as childcare, transportation and housing. The initiative is intended to support active duty service members who are transitioning out of the military as well as members of the National Guard and Reserves who are returning to their civilian jobs.
The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is the first organization to join the coalition and will work with Microsoft over the next two years on this initiative.
"In the coming years, a significant number of veterans will seek civilian employment opportunities. Microsoft's new initiative provides veterans with the tools to successfully transition to new careers and contribute to economic growth in an especially tough economy," said Paul Rieckhoff, founder and executive director of IAVA. "Microsoft has been the leader in the technology revolution, and we appreciate its strength and commitment to our returning heroes. The company is sending a message to veterans nationwide that it has their back. IAVA is excited to be a part of this coalition, and we look forward to working with Microsoft to make a historic impact."
"I salute Microsoft's plan to help our nation's veterans successfully transition from military service to civilian careers. The men and women who have served in uniform make excellent employees, and I believe this effort will go a long way to helping them succeed in the 21st century work force. I hope Microsoft's commitment will inspire all employers across the country to give back to veterans," said Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs and World War II veteran.
"Programs such as Elevate America represent the uniquely American attributes of compassion for our fellow man and corporations answering the call to serve our veteran community in time of war," said Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "Education and training of the young men and women who have served our nation in the military and their families is often an afterthought and an unattainable goal in times of economic stress. This innovative program helps bridge that divide and opens up paths to new opportunities in life."
"Veterans and their families deserve our nation's best efforts in providing the resources to ensure a seamless transition from military service to civilian life. I commend Microsoft for working to support these heroes by providing the tools necessary to be part of a 21st century work force," said Congressman Bob Filner (D-California), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "As a nation, we reap the rewards of their dedication and sacrifice. Today, Microsoft has shown individuals, communities and neighborhoods what we can do if we work together. What may seem simple at the outset can lead to powerful changes for our heroes."
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are nearly 185,000 unemployed Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. The unemployment rate among Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans is 20 percent higher than the overall unemployment rate for nonveterans. While veterans are highly trained in military and leadership skills, many lack the formal education, training and certifications required by employers as they transition into the civilian work force. More than half of today's jobs require some technology skills, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that will reach 77 percent in the next decade.
"Our servicemen and women are amazing leaders, but to be able to compete in the tough job market when they return from duty, many of them need access to technology training," said Pamela Passman, corporate vice president of Microsoft Global Corporate Affairs, who announced the initiative at today's National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) Forum. "We are bringing together organizations and companies that can combine their competencies and resources with ours to make the greatest possible impact to help veterans and their spouses."
Organizations and veterans can find more information on this initiative by visiting http://www.microsoft.com/elevateamerica, and can get updates by following Elevate America on Twitter at http://twitter.com/elevateamerica.
Since launching Elevate America in February 2009 as part of Microsoft Unlimited Potential, Microsoft has partnered with states to provide people with technology skills training, industry-recognized certifications and work force readiness tools to help them prepare for today's jobs. Elevate America was designed as a program for all Americans, to help people gain skills to be more employable, sharpen their skills to retain current jobs, apply for jobs they were not previously qualified for and have the confidence to continue job-seeking. States have until March 31 to sign up for the program.
At the NAWB Forum, Passman reported on the results of Elevate America so far:
-- Twelve states have implemented the program: Colorado, Georgia,
Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri,
North Carolina, Virginia and Washington.
-- To date, Microsoft has distributed more than 300,000 free training and
certification vouchers to these states.
-- More than 50 percent of people who received vouchers proactively took
the next step -- beginning a training course or taking a certification
-- Around 70 percent of the people who received the vouchers were
-- Sixty percent were women, and 37 percent were between 41 and 55 years
-- Thirty-three percent had a high school diploma or GED, and 42 percent
had some postsecondary education or training (certificate, some
college or four-year degree).
More information on Elevate America is available at http://www.microsoft.com/ElevateAmerica.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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