Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Calls on Business and Government To Work Together to Prepare U.S. Work Force for the 21st Century

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2001 — Today at the U.S. Department of Labor’s 21st Century Workforce Summit, Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp., urged the public and private sectors to work together to reach creative solutions that will help ensure America’s future work force has the skills and training necessary to support the high-tech economy. Ballmer underscored Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to work force training and education by announcing a $4 million grant through Microsoft’s Working Connections Program to Los Rios Community College district in Sacramento, Calif.

“I am truly impressed by the enthusiasm, dedication and spirit of cooperation displayed at this summit by both public and private leaders. This is the type of drive and commitment that will help us work together to create a work force ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century,”
Ballmer said.
“Through innovative public-private alliances such as Microsoft’s Working Connections Program, we can help ensure that American workers have the training and skills needed to advance the high-tech industry and keep our economy moving forward.”

The daylong 21st Century Workforce Summit brought together government, business and nonprofit leaders — including President George W. Bush, U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige, U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan — to discuss the structural changes affecting the work force and the economy.

The $4 million Working Connections grant to Los Rios Community College district will enable the college to update and broaden the curriculum offered to students, provide additional training for faculty and staff members, and create new placement opportunities through traditional and virtual career centers. The grant consists of $500,000 in cash and software with an estimated retail value of $3.5 million.

Microsoft’s Working Connections Program is an alliance that began in September 1997 between the company and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). The program is designed to help disadvantaged individuals prepare for information technology jobs. Working Connections enables community colleges to develop and implement technology-training programs that directly address the work force needs of their local community. Through Working Connections, more than $46 million in cash and software grants will be awarded to community colleges over a five-year period. The program is funded by Microsoft Community Affairs and administered by the AACC.

During his speech, Ballmer applauded the federal government for its leadership in supporting the use of accessible technology through the implementation of Section 508. Through Section 508, which will go into effect June 21, more than 160,000 government employees with disabilities will have a greater opportunity to take advantage of the latest advancements in technology. For more than a decade, Microsoft has been a leader in making accessible products and in raising the awareness of the entire industry regarding the importance of accessible technology. Microsoft maintains an Accessibility Technology Group, whose mission is to make accessibility integral to Microsoft platforms, products, programs and services.

Last year Microsoft Community Affairs, the company’s corporate philanthropy group, gave more than $34.3 million in cash and $200 million in software to nearly 5,000 nonprofit organizations to improve technology access to underserved communities, to strengthen nonprofits through technology, and to expand and diversify the technology work force.

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