Monday, August 3, 2009

Elevate America in Chicago: Free Computer Training

I was just reading the other day that Microsoft is supporting Elevate America in Chicago. According to Illinois workNet (which is a great, yet somewhat complicated resource):

This program, beginning now through October 30, 2009, is a major public-private partnership between Microsoft and the State of Illinois to provide up to 51,000 vouchers to Illinoisans for free online technology training. The program provides an opportunity for individuals at all skill levels to enhance information technology skills needed to compete for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Whether an individual has basic computer skills, is proficient with Microsoft Office software or is a Technical Professional they can take advantage of online courses to help them learn new skills and information to meet their goals.

Wow. I think that's an amazing opportunity for a lot of people. So how can people use these free resources? According to the rather confusing information page, one of the easiest ways for people to participate is for them to be already enrolled at a Workforce Center. If they are not enrolled at the center yet, the following sites in Chicago offer walk-ins and will issue vouchers for the training. Training can then be completed at a personal computer that have the following system requirements, or at a public resource room (Please take note of any special requirements).

What I'm trying to make sense of right now is exactly what sort of training is being offered. If I had headphones right now, I'd be able to watch the video and listen to the explaination, but I don't, so instead I'm attempting to review the letter from the Office of Governor Pat Quinn. It states:

Online courses available using Elevate America vouchers include intermediate level Microsoft Office 2003 and Microsoft Office 2007 training, and advanced-level training for technical professionals.

From August through October, eligible Illinoisans can apply for a voucher through one of the following workforce networks:

• Illinois workNet Centers, including Mayor Daley’s WorkNet System
• Digital Inclusion Community Technology Centers, including the Illinois and City of Chicago Digital
Excellence Network and affiliated non-profit agencies
• High School Career and Technical Education programs approved by the Illinois State Board of
• Illinois Community College Career and Technical Education Network
• Illinois Community College Board Adult Education Network

Additionally, as I attempt to review this factsheet, I see that there is also basic computer training that doesn't require a voucher. For additional information, here is a CBS article from June 18th.

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