Microsoft Launches Skills 2000 Initiative Aimed at Reducing “Skills Gap” for Trained Computer Professionals

ORLANDO, Fla., May 3, 1997 — Microsoft Corp. today announced Skills 2000, a multimillion-dollar initiative to be carried out over the next two years to address the gap between the number of open jobs in the computing industry and the lack of skilled professionals to fill them. Today, according to the Information Technology Association of America, 190,000 IT jobs are vacant across the United States, and a prediction by the U.S. Department of Labor indicates that new and expanding technologies will account for 80 percent of new jobs in the next 10 years. Microsoft reports show that within the Microsoft® Solution Provider (MSP) channel, there are 41,000 available technical jobs worldwide and 17,200 in North America. Presented at Fusion ’97, Microsoft’s business meeting with its Solution Providers, Skills 2000 was welcomed by MSPs who rank the “skills gap” as their No. 1 business challenge.

Skills 2000 involves a three-tiered approach designed to significantly reduce the skills gap by reaching out to individuals currently in the computing work force, as well as those interested in developing a career in information technology. Tier one will focus on finding and placing skilled professionals in the job market today with Microsoft Solution Provider organizations through the services of a national recruitment agency and job fairs across the United States. Microsoft will also facilitate internships between MSPs and students developing IT skills. Tier two narrows in on technically trained individuals who need to update their skills continually to keep pace with technology, through half-price, one-day Saturday trainings. Tier three will target academic instructors at high schools, colleges and universities by offering free technical training to teachers and professors who are educating the work force of tomorrow.

Microsoft’s existing worldwide training and certification programs have trained more than 1.2 million IT professionals this year and certified an additional 118,000. These programs are growing at a rate of almost 100 percent each year. Skills 2000 is an initiative designed to build upon the success of Microsoft’s training and certification programs to reach a broader segment of the work force.

“The skills gap is holding back growth in our channel, and in the entire computing industry,” said Sam Jadallah, vice president, organization customer unit at Microsoft. “Today we are launching the first of a series of investments over the next two years to build a ‘skills engine’ that will enable our Microsoft Solution Providers to increase and extend their service capability by having the right people on staff.”

“On average, MSPs have three jobs open today and say they plan to hire up to 11 more technical staff this year if qualified candidates are available,” said Nancy Lewis, general manager, training and certification at Microsoft. “According to more than half of our MSPs, the greatest barrier to filling job openings is the lack of qualified applicants. Microsoft is committed to helping our MSPs employ highly trained professionals, and Skills 2000 is our first step in meeting this need.”

Skills 2000 Tier One Facilitates Job Placement

Microsoft has contracted with Quantum EDP Recruiting Services, a recruitment agency specializing in information technology job placement, to match MSPs with qualified job candidates. Microsoft has arranged for its Solution Providers to receive a deeply discounted rate of nearly 70 percent, a potential savings of $3,000 to $5,000 on the placement fee for new hires. Quantum representatives will work directly with MSPs to match qualified candidates to their specific needs. Quantum expects to place thousands of candidates during the first year. For more information, visit the Quantum Web site at ( or call toll free (888) 887-7744.

Skills 2000 will also include sponsorship of MSP job fairs across the United States, matching MSPs with the most skilled technical professionals in their local market. To ensure that all recruited candidates are trained in the latest technologies, Microsoft will provide new MSP hires with self-paced Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer training at a value of approximately $2,000 per new hire. In February 1997, Microsoft conducted a pilot job fair in St. Louis that resulted in job placements with MSPs for nearly 40 of the 300 attendees.

“The St. Louis Microsoft job fair was a huge success for us, resulting in 18 interview candidates with several leads on future college graduates,” said Tom Michael, director of technical staffing for G.A. Sullivan, a St. Louis Microsoft Solution Provider Partner. “A typical job fair would probably result in only one or two potential candidates, so the quality of candidates and the ease with which we were able to find them through the Microsoft job fair was an extremely valuable service to us.”

Tier one of Skills 2000 will also include resources dedicated to facilitating internships between students involved in one or more of Microsoft’s training and certifications programs and Microsoft Solution Provider organizations. These internships will provide students with real-world experience with the Microsoft networking products they are learning to implement and service.

Skills 2000 Tier Two Helps Computer Professionals Keep Pace With Technology

This year, Microsoft will provide more than 15,000 individuals in the computing industry with vouchers for half-priced, one-day Saturday trainings on key networking technologies such as Microsoft Exchange, the Windows NT® operating system and Internet Information Server. Saturday training classes have proved to be the most successful way to engage this segment of the computing industry by avoiding the “lost opportunity” cost of a day away from the office. As part of Skills 2000, Microsoft will extend and broaden the distribution of the half-priced Saturday voucher, offering discounted training to an estimated 50,000 people over the next two years. These vouchers are available as part of Microsoft’s Reseller Action Pack. Individuals interested in obtaining a Reseller Action Pack can obtain one by visiting .

Skills 2000 Tier Three Trains Instructors to Educate the Work Force of Tomorrow

To help develop the technical work force of tomorrow under the Skills 2000 initiative, Microsoft will double its investment in its industry-leading Authorized Academic Training Program (AATP) to provide nearly 300 academic institutions that are AATP members with information technology training for teachers and professors. This investment will help ensure that AATP instructors are highly trained on the latest Microsoft technologies and that the academic programs they teach are the most effective courses to prepare students for jobs in the computing industry. More than 8,500 students were trained in fiscal year 1996, and Microsoft expects to

train more than 40,000 students in fiscal year 1997, a 12-month increase of more than 400 percent.

“As an AATP member, Irvine Valley College has experienced phenomenal success with our networking degree program in retraining displaced workers as well as other students seeking career changes and mobility,” said Joyce Arntson, professor at Irvine Valley College. “It’s been extremely rewarding for me to see students become Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers and learn valuable skills that are widely sought after by the computer technology industry.”

More information about the Authorized Academic Training Program is available at

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft and Windows NT are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors : If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages

Related Posts