Free digital skills training has been available in the Rutland area for the past several months, made possible by a generous donation from Microsoft to the Vermont Digital Economy Project. Two additional Vermont training sites are going to be up-and-running soon, making this a great time to update you on the importance of increasing your digital skills.

According to Mike Keogh, Rutland CCV’s Academic Coordinator and Workforce Liaison, “One of the themes that consistently comes up in conversations with local businesses is the skills gap in digital skills and digital education. And also that the most job growth that we are going to see in Vermont will require digital skills beyond that which are being currently provided.”

The Microsoft IT Academy is a perfect solution for Vermonters to gain these skills, because it’s free and self-paced. You just have to sign-up at a location in person the first time and then you can access any of the courses among the online catalog of more than 700 from anywhere where you have an Internet connection. More background on the types of courses is available here.

Many people have already started taking advantage of this free training in Rutland. “We have high school students to retirees and everyone in between that are interested in building these skills,” said CCB’s Keogh, “From an academic perspective, we’re also seeing instructors see the value in this. There is no targeted population, I think that anyone can benefit from this.”

The importance of digital skills to area employers is also highly evident.  According to Joe Fusco, a Vice President at Casella Waste Management, based in Rutland, “Very little, if any job, anywhere in our company doesn’t require some sort of digital skills and that is only increasing as time goes by. I very easily foresee a day when there is absolutely no job at our company – that no one could come to our company at all without any digital skills and hope to contribute or solve the kind of problems that we need our employees to solve, without a high level or even a moderate level of digital skills. In many ways digital literacy and digital skills are the reading, writing, and arithmetic of the 21st Century.”

If you are interested in taking advantage of this free training and are ever in the Rutland area, the YouTube video above explains how easy it is to access the training and provides more information on why every Vermonter should consider doing so.

We are also very pleased to announce that two additional Microsoft ITA licenses will be available to Vermonters very soon. One of these will be at the Vermont Technical College in Randolph, where both VTC students and the general public will be able to sign-up for access to the online course catalog. It is expected that many students will take advantage of the advanced certification training in website development and database administration, in addition to gaining skills in Microsoft Office programs that can be important as they embark on their careers.

The final location will be the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington, which serves a very large number of Vermonters from many walks of life.  According to Christine Friese, Assistant State Librarian, Vermont Department of Libraries, “In Vermont libraries, we see more and more job seekers, entrepreneurs, and career changers for whom computer skills are vital. Having the chance to learn Microsoft tools for free and at one’s own pace is a big win for Vermonters.”