West Virginia’s higher education community arms students with career-ready technology skills

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Representatives of West Virginia’s higher education community today announced a new collaboration with Microsoft Corp. aimed at giving students high-tech skills that are essential for success in today’s economy. Through the Microsoft IT Academy, students at each public four- and two-year higher education institution in the state now will have access to technology education and software that will boost their readiness for in-demand careers.

“Our students’ expertise must be ever growing and evolving, especially in technology. The Microsoft IT Academy can help them sharpen their technology skills in ways that the careers of today and tomorrow demand,” said Dr. Bruce Berry, Chair of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. “This is a positive step for our students, and a smart step for West Virginia.”

“West Virginia’s employers strongly value industry-recognized certifications,” said Dr. Sarah Tucker, Vice Chancellor for Community and Technical College Education. “This collaboration will strengthen the information technology credentials currently offered by our community and technical colleges and provide students flexibility in the pursuit of high-level certifications.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 50 percent of today’s jobs require some technology skills, a percentage that is expected to increase to 77 percent over the next decade. In addition, studies suggest that in the coming years, there will be a significant shortage in the supply of skilled IT professionals.

The Microsoft IT Academy rollout already has begun to answer this call across West Virginia’s campuses, where students will receive curriculum, professional development and certifications for industry-relevant technology skills – with an emphasis on preparing them for high-tech careers.

This Microsoft Corp.-higher education collaboration is being supported by the West Virginia Network (WVNET).

“WVNET is proud to sponsor the first year of the IT Academy for all public higher education schools,” said Dan O’Hanlon, WVNET Director. “This will allow all K12 graduates who already have IT Academy experience to continue their certifications right through college.”

Benefits of the Microsoft IT Academy for West Virginia’s public higher education system include Microsoft online learning and digital literacy curriculum; ready-to-use, customizable lesson plans; and validation of technology skills through certification. As a result, students get real-world education and are better prepared to enter high-tech careers.

“We are deeply committed to working with governments, communities, schools and educators to use the power of information technology to deliver software, services and programs that provide anytime, anywhere learning and 21st century skills for all,” said Jamie Harper, General Manager, U.S. Education, Microsoft Corp. “We are pleased to work with the State of West Virginia on programs that will bring the right technology mix to help students achieve their goals.”

Today’s announcement came in conjunction with the West Virginia Higher Education Technology Conference. Earlier this year, the West Virginia Department of Education announced its collaboration with the Microsoft IT Academy to provide students, teachers and staff statewide in grades K-12 with the opportunity to earn technology certifications.

For more information, visit www.microsoft.com/ITAcademy.