ARCHS is awarding state-funded, no cost access into an IT e-learning system for Microsoft products to more than a dozen selected high schools from local, under-resourced school districts. These area high schools will receive online curriculum and industry-recognized certifications that assist students in developing digital skills ranging from fundamental technology to preparation for career/college roles in computer science.
In addition, ARCHS’ funding of the IT e-learning system will enable educators’ success by providing them professional development resources and train-the-trainer sessions needed to keep their technical skills current. Without ARCHS’ support, the high cost of Microsoft certification exams is often a barrier to students from low-income families, even if the high school can afford to purchase the student curriculum and educator resources/training.
ARCHS will track the use of resources, trainings, and number/types of certificates earned by students in order to identify any needed improvements during the two-year, $250,000 program that will begin August 2017.
State economists estimate Missouri has 5,000 open jobs requiring some form of Microsoft skills certification. The new state partnership between Microsoft Imagine Academy (MIA, formerly IT Academy), Missouri Department of Social Services, and federal TANF block grants is similar to other states that also have used MIA to deploy the high school program leading to in-demand occupations.
Locally, the partnership between ARCHS, Microsoft US Public Sector/Education – South Central Region, Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE), En Pointe Technologies, and area high schools/districts seeks to bridge the STEM skills gap between the region’s career/college-bound young adults, high demand STEM labor markets, and improved economic/social circumstances.