Offering highly accessible digital workforce education is a key part of the Vermont Digital Economy Project.  Project partner Microsoft is delivering the cutting-edge Microsoft IT Academy Program ® (ITA) to provide free online digital workforce education through selected Vermont institutions and libraries.

After careful consideration, the project team has selected the Community College of Vermont’s Rutland facility as the first of three Vermont facilities to receive a coveted ITA license.  Rutland is one of more than fifty Vermont towns that were directly and significantly impacted by flooding in 2011 and the CCV facility there is very accessible to residents of more than a dozen other flood-impacted communities. (The official summary of Irene’s economic impact to Vermont can be found here.)

“I’m very pleased that the Rutland academic center of the Community College of Vermont has been chosen as a site for the Microsoft IT Academy through the partnership between Microsoft and the Vermont Digital Economy Project,” said Eric Sakai, Dean of Academic Technology, Community College of Vermont (CCV).

The Microsoft ITA prepares students and educators to succeed by providing access to the latest Microsoft software, training, and certification. See here for the course summary and academic tracks of the program. As part of the project, Microsoft is contributing three ITA licenses at a highly discounted rate, including associated software, courseware, and other materials and services, for three years each. The value of each annual license is more than $50,000.  This generous donation is a significant portion of the matching funds contributed to the project.

“Rutland is CCV’s second-largest center, enrolling over 700 students each semester, about 97% of whom are Vermont residents”, said CCV’s Eric Sakai. “The IT Academy gives our students and faculty access to courses and course materials in a variety of information technology specializations that are highly valued among employers who need IT expertise.”

According to a recent IDC study, there is a widening Information Technology skills gap. More than 50% of today’s jobs require some technology skills, but the IDC predicts that percentage will increase to 77% in the next decade.  This is precisely the gap that the Microsoft ITA and associated certifications are designed to address.

It is expected that any Vermonter will be able to register for the Rutland CCV non-credit course which will make the entire Microsoft ITA online course catalog available to the registrant at no charge. Registered students will not only be able to access the courses in the Rutland CCV computer lab, but also from their computer at home — or anywhere else where they have an Internet connection, such as a local library or even a coffee shop. “This should provide a much-needed workforce development opportunity to the greater Rutland community,” said Sakai.

Further details will be made available once the process for course delivery is finalized and the ITA becomes available for CCV registration in Rutland.