WASHINGTON, D.C. — March 26, 2009 — Microsoft Corp. today stepped up its commitment to prepare people of all ages with the technology skills and tools to succeed in today’s challenging economic climate at the Government Leaders Forum — Americas outside Washington, D.C. As part of this commitment, Microsoft announced the expansion of the successful Microsoft DreamSpark student program to include high school students worldwide. DreamSpark, originally available only to university students, makes professional-level developer and designer tools as well as training available to students at no charge to support and advance their learning and skills through technical design, technology, math, science and engineering activities.
Expressed through its investments in a variety of initiatives, including DreamSpark, the Microsoft BizSpark program, Elevate America and Imagine Cup, Microsoft believes that giving people the right technology skills and the tools to translate their talent into business success is critical to stimulating the future growth of local and global economies. These programs are supported through the Microsoft Unlimited Potential program, the company’s commitment to help create sustained social and economic opportunity for communities worldwide.
Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer, Microsoft Corp., demonstrates future technologies that may help connect people in times of crisis, such as natural disasters at the Government Leaders Forum–Americas, held just outside of Washington, D.C., March 26, 2009.
“Today, despite the economic crisis, it’s as important as ever to focus on investing in innovation so we can continue to make real progress in solving big problems and creating social and economic opportunity,” said Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft. “In particular, I believe investment in education is essential. Education is the starting point for success for individuals and the prerequisite for economic growth and prosperity for communities. It’s vital that we support efforts to provide children with access to a high-quality education and adults with access to ongoing technology skills training.”
With a growing IT skills shortage in the global workforce, the need for qualified developers and technologists is greater than ever, but without experience in using the tools and technologies found in business today, it can be challenging for students to break into the professional ranks. The DreamSpark student program lets students download professional-level tools for free because Microsoft wants them to build the development skills that are essential in an ever-increasing digital world. DreamSpark for university students was announced a little more than a year ago, and since then, there have been nearly 2 million downloads from students around the world. With so many countries economically struggling to keep up with the demand for a high-quality education, Microsoft programs such as DreamSpark, Student HelpDesk and Imagine Cup can empower high school and university students around the world to achieve the skills necessary to succeed in the increasingly competitive global workforce.
“As a university student, access to the software tools available on DreamSpark has already provided substantial benefits to my studies and overall academic success,” said Sina Chenari, a computer science student at George Washington University. “The experience and skills that I’ve developed using the same professional technology tools have helped me secure valuable internships and will give me a tremendous head start for a career after graduation. I think all students should take advantage of this opportunity before they enter the workforce.”
With more than 50 percent of today’s jobs requiring technology skills, Microsoft recognizes that this means good jobs today and nearly all jobs tomorrow will require critical thinking skills, a solid background in math and science, and the ability to use information technology tools and applications.
It is a priority to invest in programs designed to give people of all ages the skills needed to land a job in today’s technology-driven workplace. Last month in the United States, Microsoft rolled out Elevate America, which provides workers with immediate access to no-cost and low-cost tools, technology training and certification exams that help meet the demands of employers and jobs in today’s changing economy.
Bill Gates, chairman, Microsoft Corp., addresses the Government Leaders Forum – Americas on Thursday. Microsoft announced the expansion of the DreamSpark program to include high school students worldwide. DreamSpark offers free professional-level developer and designer tools and training to students to support learning and skills development in technical design, technology, math, science and engineering activities. The forum was held just outside of Washington, D.C., March 26, 2009.
Investments such as these in lifelong education can foster local innovation, which in turn creates long-term employment opportunities, sowing the seeds for more rapid growth once the economic climate improves. Ultimately, it is entrepreneurs who develop valuable new products and services that will solve old problems, meet new needs and lead to businesses that create high-paying jobs.
This is why Microsoft launched the BizSpark program, a global effort designed to accelerate startup company success by providing fast, affordable access to current, full-featured Microsoft tools and technologies, along with support through a global community of technology and entrepreneurial experts who can help navigate through the hurdles of growing a new business.
One example of how BizSpark assists global entrepreneurial growth can be witnessed through a memorandum of understanding signed today between Microsoft and Brazil’s Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos (FINEP), a government agency that provides financial services to businesses, universities, technology institutions, research centers, and other public and private institutions. The PRIME program, which will support startup companies from conceptualization to business development, will provide grants and zero-interest credit to more than 5,000 companies over the next four years. Additional support to these innovative startups will be delivered through ongoing technology and business training classes offered at Microsoft Innovation Centers across Brazil.
“Emerging companies that are selected for the PRIME program will have access to the latest technologies from Microsoft that will enable them to jump-start their development and growth,” said Eduardo Moreira da Costa, Innovation Director, FINEP.
Microsoft is partnering with governments and other organizations in these efforts to address workforce readiness at every level, recognizing that the power of technology can help countries achieve global competitiveness by transforming education, fostering local innovation and enabling job and economic growth for everyone. The unlimited ability and creativity of individuals to innovate and generate impact in their own communities, paired with the magic of software and 21st-century skills, can create significant local and global progress toward catalyzing global social and economic recovery.
More information on these programs can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/unlimitedpotential, http://www.dreamspark.com and http://www.microsoftstartupzone.com/bizspark. Those interested can follow Unlimited Potential on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MicrosoftUP.
About Unlimited Potential
Microsoft, through its Unlimited Potential vision, is committed to making technology more affordable, relevant and accessible for the 5 billion people around the world who do not yet enjoy its benefits. The company aims to do so by helping to transform education and foster a culture of innovation, and through these means enable better jobs and opportunities. By working with governments, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations and industry partners, Microsoft hopes to reach its first major milestone — to reach the next 1 billion people who are not yet realizing the benefits of technology — by 2015.
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