The State of Texas announced a new digital alliance with Microsoft to address the need for digital and technical skills in the workforce. In an Oct. 22 press release, Texas and Microsoft said the alliance is “intended to create new economic opportunity, close equity, and digital skills gaps, and prepare a workforce for the 21st century.”
The partnership is just an expansion of the Accelerate Initiative, which was launched in August of this year. The initiative is part of a broader Microsoft global skills initiative which aims to help 25 million people worldwide acquire new digital skills by the end of 2020.
“The expansion of our Accelerate program to the state of Texas is an unparalleled opportunity to speed up the local economic recovery and bring critical digital skills to Texans,” said Kate Johnson, president of Microsoft U.S. “We hope this program will be a transformative opportunity for students, teachers, workers, and the entire community.”
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) will work with Microsoft and other partners, including NASA, Dallas Independent School District (ISD), National Math and Science Initiative, University of Houston College of Technology, Dallas Regional Chamber, and Irving Chamber of Commerce. A key component of the initiative is spurring economic development by providing digital skills education to underserved communities and re-skilling Americans impacted by COVID-19.
Specifically, the program will roll out digital skills programs across the state to address a wide variety of needs, including STEM engagement and talent pipeline growth for students in K-12; professional development for K-16 educators, thought leaders, and the education non-government organization ecosystem; and workforce development for high school and college students, as well as parents seeking opportunities to enhance their technical skills.
“Closing the digital divide is critical to developing the current and future workforce,” said Michael Hinojosa, superintendent of Dallas ISD. “Our collaboration with Microsoft and the Texas Education Agency is a model for how to apply civic innovation to advance equity in our schools.”
In a press release, Texas highlighted new development programs for educators and staff, including:
- Expanding Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program in Texas: Microsoft has committed to increasing its recruitment efforts to secure more volunteers and identify new schools to participate in TEALS. The program that connects classroom teachers with tech-industry volunteers to create sustainable computer science (CS) programs. Volunteers support teachers as they learn to teach CS independently over time.
- Leadership Educator Accelerate Program (LEAP): A 12-week immersive program that will introduce LEAP Fellows to key drivers and trends influencing the future of work and equip participants with tools and strategies to enhance the classroom experience for students and instructors.