Pamela Passman: National Governors Association

Remarks by Pamela Passman, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Global Corporate Affairs, regarding Microsoft’s Elevate America program.
Washington, D.C.
February 22, 2009

PAMELA PASSMAN: Governor Heineman, Governor Kaine, thank you very much for the opportunity to participate in today’s panel.

The topics we’re discussing today are of the utmost importance to Microsoft, to our partners, to our customers, and of course to the future of the U.S. economy. Microsoft is a software developer, and our success is based on a broad array of companies building great hardware, and developing innovative software on our platform, as well as many other businesses providing services, and consulting, and other value. In the U.S. there are approximately 500,000 companies in the Microsoft ecosystem, and this network of companies contributes to economic growth and opportunity in a number of ways.

In the U.S. 4.2 million people were employed in jobs created by Microsoft’s business and by our partners. In 2007 that was 42 percent of the U.S. IT workforce. 27 percent of U.S. spending on IT is on software, but it creates 66 percent of U.S. employment in IT. For every dollar of Microsoft revenue in the United States more than $6 is earned by our partners. We also have partnerships with academic institutions, helping them train the next generation of software developers and IT professionals.

We work with customers in every sector of the economy, from healthcare to retail to the public sector. All have a need for employees with at least a basic level of competency in computer skills. Being a large employer, a partner, and a solution provider gives us a keen sense of the skills that are needed today and in the future in the marketplace. We’re a prime example of the range of skills needed – from the basic level of skills required for administrative support to the very advanced technology architecture skills required to dream up, create, and then build the future of software and technology which is core to Microsoft.

Our talented employees understand, appreciate, and use a wide range of skills in order to help our business run, and help our partners and customers succeed. To help meet the needs we know exist in the marketplace for technology-related skills, we’ve built programs that provide training opportunities and networks of training partners. These are commercial, academic, and nonprofit training partners, and we have certifications that are market-tested and valued by employers. We have more than 1,100 Microsoft Certified Partners for Learning Solutions and IT academies in the United States that provide these valuable resources of trainings and certifications.

We are heartened by the fact that billions of new federal workforce training dollars will soon be available to states and localities. Now the challenge for all of us is how to make sure we partner and collaborate to spend the dollars in the most efficient and effective way possible. With the opportunity that the stimulus package presents, we have a responsibility to plan and be thoughtful, to be sure we’re clear about the needs of employers, and the needs of the marketplace, and how we together bring resources to ensure that Americans have the right education and skills to drive an economic recovery.

This means investment in education is critical, and we’re also encouraged the emphasis on education that’s in the stimulus package. We need to transform math and science education in America. We need to improve teacher training and teacher quality. We need to ensure there’s a pipeline of prepared students for all fields, but especially those in math and science, where we all know we’re lacking.

For Americans already in the workforce, we need programs that provide ongoing education and training so they can continue to be successful in the knowledge-based economy.

For those who are unemployed, we need technical skills training programs coupled with certification opportunities to give those people a start back up the economic ladder, and we’re going to need lifelong learning programs to keep workers’ knowledge fresh as innovation and technology continues to power the economy.

This year alone Microsoft will invest over $9 billion in R&D to help grow our business in the future, drive innovation across the industry, create jobs, and help keep the United States at the forefront of emerging technologies. We all know that investment in research and development is a key driver of innovation, economic growth, and social advancement, and we’re going to continue to invest in education and training opportunities to get people the skills they need for success in the job market today, and in the future.

We know that by 2014 77 percent of all jobs in the U.S. will require higher-level analytic and technology skills. A 2006 study found that a person who uses a computer at work will earn about $100 more a week than someone doing the same job and not using a computer. That premium jumps to $118 per week if a person also uses e-mail and the Internet. Microsoft annually certifies thousands of technical workers around the country to service and use Microsoft products, a seal of approval that significantly raises workers’ value and attractiveness to employers. Microsoft and our partners have trained over 51 million software developers and technology workers globally over the past decade.

In the past six months, we’ve seen an 18 percent increase in workers seeking to acquire technical certifications as they seek to differentiate themselves in the challenging economy. Through our Unlimited Potential Community Technology Skills Program, we’ve invested $85 million in cash, software, and training support to more than 4,500 community technology centers in the United States since 2003. Through our Partners In Learning program in the United States we’ve invested $35 million in resources and training in K through 12, touching more than 3.3 million students and teachers to actively increase access to technology and to improve its use in learning.

Our understanding of the role of technology skills and how it can play in our sector and in the economy more broadly, and the importance of ongoing training in the workplace, has inspired us to work with our partners to think even more boldly about what we can do to support American workers.

I’m pleased to share with you a new program we are launching today called Microsoft Elevate America. Microsoft is partnering with governments, businesses, and community-based organizations to launch Elevate America. Through these partnerships, we’re offering 1 million Microsoft learning vouchers for no-cost training and certifications that provide the skills needed for people of all ages who are preparing for job opportunities in today’s challenging economy. We’ve created a Web portal that helps anyone access information and resources on obtaining the technology skills needed for the jobs of today and the future.

In addition, ongoing basic information technology training will continue to be available through Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential Community Technology Skills Program and delivered through Department of Labor One Stop locations, and community partners across the country. These will provide people the training and resources they need to get jobs.

Through this initiative Microsoft hopes to train at least 2 million people over the next three years. I’m very pleased today that as we launch it the States of Florida, New York, and Washington are already participating with us, as well as California First Lady Maria Shriver’s We Connect You campaign.

Starting now, we welcome and we hope that other states and cities will join us as we help to prepare citizens across the country for the technology training they need for the jobs of today. At Microsoft we look forward to continuing to partner with the governors on this very important issue. This is an issue that many of us have been very focused on for a long time. There are great people across the country who have been working on workforce development issues, and we’re very excited that the focus is now on how we really can come together, the public sector, the private sector, to really focus on our workers.

Thank you.