Microsoft offers free vouchers

Published 10:36 pm Saturday, June 20, 2009

A new program for people who are out of work has gotten a good response already, a community college official said Thursday.

The Microsoft Elevate America program was announced Monday by Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine. The program is a partnership between the software giant and Virginia’s community colleges. It will provide free training and examination in Microsoft certification courses to people who are out of work.

“It certainly boosts anybody’s ability to share their new skills,” said Trenton Hightower, assistant vice chancellor for workforce development services with the Virginia community college system.

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Virginia received 11,250 vouchers to be handed out at One-Stop Workforce Centers throughout the state. In Suffolk, the center is located at 157 N. Main St.

The program includes vouchers for skills training in various Windows operating systems and the Office suite, which includes programs such as Microsoft Word, Access, Excel and PowerPoint. Other vouchers in the program are for certification testing in Microsoft Office skills, and still other vouchers are for information-technology professionals who want to acquire skills beyond general computer knowledge.

The vouchers’ values range from $89 to $200, Hightower said. Plus, the Microsoft certification itself has intrinsic value, he said.

“You can take Microsoft certification anywhere in the United States or even in the world and people would know what that credential meant,” he said. “If you say you took a class, people can’t quantify how good that may have been, but if you have the Microsoft certification, people then can equate the credential to the level of competency.”

Vouchers are being distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Office locations and additional information about obtaining the vouchers are available online at To learn more about the Elevate America program, visit