Skills 2000 Loan Program Gives Unprecedented Access to IT Training

REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 28, 1998 — After working for three years training people with disabilities to use computers, Greg Christopher decided he wanted to get the formal computer training that would allow him to expand his career options and increase his ability to help other people. The problem was money.

At a seminar sponsored by Micro Endeavors, a Microsoft Authorized Technical Education Center in Upperdarby, Pa., Christopher heard about the Skills 2000 IT Career Loan program, an innovative program started earlier this year by Microsoft and Servus Financial Corp. to help address the current nationwide shortage of qualified information technology (IT) workers. In its first seven months, the Skills 2000 IT Career Loan program has distributed more than $55 million in competitive, low-rate, easy-to-use loans to thousands of qualified students seeking the training and resources they need to begin or extend careers in the IT industry. The loans can be used to finance Microsoft technical-training expenses, including course tuition, living expenses and computer-equipment costs. Loans are also available to refinance existing education debt associated with Microsoft technical education.

Christopher, who is currently attending classes at Micro Endeavors, was surprised at how simple it was to obtain a loan through the Skills 2000 IT Career Loan program. He got approval over the phone in about 10 minutes and received his check in 10 days.

“Everything they said would happen, happened,” Christopher said. “This was all very easy and very fair. Servus was just great!” Currently, he uses the loan money for tuition, a computer upgrade and living expenses. He says that it would have been “much more difficult, much more of a strain,” to get the training he needed without the loan. “The loan gave me an easy and comfortable way to get training.”

By the end of 1998, it is projected that more than 600,000 students will have been trained through Microsoft Authorized Technical Education Centers (ATECs) and at Microsoft Authorized Academic Training Program (AATP) institutions in the United States. Skills 2000 IT Career Loans are available in the United States to students who meet loan requirements and are enrolled in Microsoft technical training courses at Microsoft ATECs and AATP institutions.

At Micro Endeavors, Greg Christopher is working toward certification as a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) in Visual Basic 5.0 so that he can continue to help people with disabilities by customizing and programming voice-recognition software. He believes that Visual Basic can harness the power of Windows to achieve tremendous advances in voice-recognition software, which will help the disabled enter new careers, get back to work, and stay employed after they are no longer able to operate a regular keyboard.

Encouraged by his own success and the ease with which he obtained his loan, Christopher has encouraged friends and family members to sign up for the loan program and to get into the IT industry. He is convinced that the training “will allow me greater opportunities to serve more people, and will help me do more for the handicapped.”

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