Turning Knowledge into Value

REDMOND, Wash., April 17, 2007 – Knowing you are skilled at the tools of your trade is important. Proving those skills to your manager and peers is how to get ahead in your career.

Microsoft Learning has developed a new certification program for the 2007 Microsoft Office system designed to help information workers both master the power of the new version of Microsoft Office and validate their advanced skills as well.

“Technology has expanded the definition of productivity beyond a one-dimensional measurement of inputs and outputs to include the intangible value of information and its effects on business processes and practices,” says Andrew Hazen, director for Centriq Foss, a Microsoft Gold Certified Learning Solutions Partner. “Measuring productivity for the information worker can be demonstrated through achieving certification because it firmly establishes an achievement of competencies and knowledge otherwise unknown and unmeasured.”

Specialist and Professional Certifications

For the first time, the new 2007 Microsoft Office system certifications will feature two series of certifications: Microsoft Certified Application Specialist and Microsoft Certified Application Professional.

Microsoft Certified Application Specialist

Like its predecessor, the Microsoft Office Specialist credential, Microsoft Certified Application Specialist validates the skills within a single application. Certifications will be available for Microsoft Office Word 2007, Microsoft Office Excel 2007, Microsoft Office Outlook 2007, Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007, Microsoft Office Access 2007, and Windows Vista™.

Microsoft Certified Application Professional

The new Microsoft Certified Application Professional program provides the opportunity for experienced business professionals to validate their advanced skills. The certifications measure a person’s ability to use multiple products across the 2007 Microsoft Office system, including Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, to accomplish key business tasks.

There are four skill-set certifications available in this new certification program: Managing Budgets, Managing Presentations, Managing Team Collaboration and Supporting Organizations.

“The Microsoft Certified Application Professional credential validates the wide range of skills it takes to work in a collaborative business environment,” says Lutz Ziob, general manager of Microsoft Learning. “It recognizes the advanced skills experienced business professionals have gained and offers them a way to earn certifications that are recognized by their managers and peers.”

Preparing for Certification

The first step in preparing for any of the 2007 Microsoft Office system certification exams is to take the corresponding Microsoft Office Pre-Tests. This on-line tool measures a person’s current skill level and then creates a learning plan with suggested learning tools. With the sophisticated new functionality and user interface of 2007 Microsoft Office system, the pre-test is a valuable first step for information workers advancing to the new suite of products.

There are a variety of learning resources that will become available over the coming months, including books from Microsoft Press, Microsoft courseware and E-Learning, and Vendor Approved Courseware that is independently reviewed and approved to meet the exacting standards of Microsoft’s certification programs.

The Value of Certification

While learning to use 2007 Microsoft Office system effectively is a reward in itself, there’s a much higher reward in earning certifications. “Managers prefer hiring people who are certified because those people have proven themselves to be more skilled, more productive and more creative,” Ziob says. “For people looking to advance their careers, certification is a proven benefit.”

OfficeTeam, a Robert Half International company and the world’s largest specialized temporary staffing service for administrative professionals, has documented one of the benefits. According to its “OfficeTeam 2007 Salary Guide” (© 2006 OfficeTeam), which is based on extensive research conducted in its offices and ongoing surveys of senior executives, information workers can earn up to 10 percent more if they have a Microsoft Office Specialist Certification.

“A ‘career changer’ – those people who aren’t content with the current status of their professional life and seek certification as the opportunity to change it  – take a more born-again approach to certification,” Centriq Foss’s Hazen says. “They find themselves renewed and refreshed from possessing a new weapon of validated skill sets that employers seek. The value of the certification clearly documents a person’s competencies through a certifiable process that meets accepted standards in the professional community.”

A study conducted by IDC and sponsored by Microsoft (“Preventing Bad Hires: The Value of Objective Prehire Assessment,” published January 2007), documents the value of certification in the hiring process, staff productivity and employee benefits.

In the study, IDC recommends that companies should use assessments and certifications to consistently identify qualified candidates. “I think the best thing that certification provides me is a shorter training and orientation and getting new hires to full productivity mode,” says Mark Smith, president of Smith and Company, in the report. He estimates that his new hires are ready after 14 days of preparing for certification training versus more than 60 days using informal training methods.

IDC also reports that Microsoft certifications provide “hiring managers and supervisors an opportunity to ensure that a candidate has the technical capabilities and other competencies to make a valuable employee.” The study also found that one-third of managers surveyed believed certified employees require less supervision and are able to accept more responsibilities than non-certified employees.

Properly trained and developed employees benefit by being recognized for performing to a higher standard, enjoying their jobs more and are more likely to achieve a healthy balance between work and their personal lives.

Be Ready, Be Proven

The new certification programs for the 2007 Microsoft Office system help information workers increase their productivity on the new 2007 Office release applications and prove their skills at both the application level and the advanced multi-application collaborative level.

“The new 2007 Microsoft Office system certifications are part of our customer readiness promise to help prepare people for new technologies, so effective learning solutions are available to customers when the products are available,” says Ziob. “The ability to be ready for these new technologies and to prove that competency is what differentiates these skilled professionals from their peers.”

The Microsoft Certified Application Specialist credentials will be available at the end of Q2. The Professional certifications will be available in the third quarter. For more information on Microsoft Learning’s 2007 Microsoft Office system and Vista Certification Programs, visit: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/msbc/.

Stay informed about the latest updates to Microsoft Learning Business Certifications by registering for the office online newsletter: http://www.microsoft.com/office/newsletter.

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