While sexy technology companies such as Google may top the charts of Best Companies to Work For, Microsoft actually goes to great lengths to provide opportunities to a range of different individuals. As one example, Microsoft reaches out to high schools and community colleges to provide hands-on training. Also, just recently I wrote a blog about Career Factor, a new online reality show Microsoft is hosting to help provide training opportunities for individuals looking to get into or enhance their skills in IT.
Now, through an initiative called Elevate America, Microsoft has just announced that it is offering $5 million in cash and $10 million in software to a group of 12 non-profits that provide training and job placement for individuals in certain demographics. With these organizations, Microsoft has placed a specific emphasis on women and young workers (ages 18–25), due (1) to the continued salary disparity offered to women in IT and (2) to the staggering unemployment of younger workers. (According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistcs, young adults represent just 13.5 percent of the work force but account for 26.4 percent of unemployed workers.)
Microsoft is hoping to tighten some of these alarming gaps in how these groups are served in today's economy. “Too many Americans don’t have the technology skills that many jobs today require,” said Pamela Passman, corporate vice president of Global Corporate Affairs at Microsoft. “Our grant recipient organizations have demonstrated how they can reach some of the most underserved people in our society, and we’re honored to partner with them to provide training and job support to the people that need it most.”
Make sure you read that last quote correctly—it's 'underserved,' not 'undeserved.' Microsoft isn't offering a hand out—it's empowering communities working to break into IT by sponsoring non-profits with a proven track record.
Are these initiatives good for the company's future employment prospects? Certainly. Are such initiatives made for mostly selfish reasons? Most likely. But whatever the motivations, I give two thumbs up to Microsoft for taking seriously the needs of these workers. It may not earn the software giant #4 on the 'Best Companies to Work For' designation (a spot Google holds), but it's likely one of the reasons why many young IT pros still dream of working for Microsoft and continue to pursue Microsoft certifications.
To learn more, check out the Elevate America site.
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