On July 20, 1969, I was among the millions of people glued to television sets worldwide and watching grainy black-and-white video as astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped from his lunar lander to the surface of the moon. “One small step for man,” Armstrong said. “One giant leap for mankind.”
What an iconic moment. But one that followed by some nine years a moment perhaps even more iconic. It was May 25, 1961, when then-President John F. Kennedy set the audacious goal of sending a man to the moon before the decade ended. No one knew how to do that. No one knew if we could do that. But Kennedy set the goal, and the nation rallied behind him.
Here at Microsoft, we’re accustomed to making bold goals. Thirty years ago the goal was a PC on every desk. We not only achieved that, we exceeded it – today computing is a ubiquitous part of daily life. Now we’re setting another big goal: Creating experiences that combine the magic of software, with the power of internet services, across a world of devices.
Our job in the Learning Experiences Team is to support that vision. We can achieve that by providing education and training that speed technology adoption and unlock the power of Microsoft products. We want people to become proficient at using our software. And we want to give them great choices when it comes to how they become proficient.
We have a lot of work to do in order to achieve our vision. We expect to see 6 million new IT job openings in the next six years. Six million. It’s going to be an enormous challenge to place people in those jobs, given the current difficulty in filling IT positions. Even within the Microsoft Partner Network there currently are 500,000 open IT positions. We need to meet the challenge of providing training that helps employers fill these open spots.
We also need to work harder to steer women into IT roles. Today not quite one in four IT workers are women – a figure that is dropping. Given the demand for IT employees, it’s a shame that a full half of all possible working-age adults that could choose an IT career don’t.
These trends are forcing those of us in IT training to re-think our approach. Does everyone in IT need a four-year degree? Are there ways for people to start an IT career without spending a great deal of time in formal classes? It’s time to develop alternate training models.
Beyond the obvious need for training, we’re aiming to build what we call an “enthusiastic ecosystem.” Of course, we’re always enthusiastic about technology. But we want to go beyond that and engage people with great content and services. We want to listen to our audience and act on their feedback. And we want to innovative in our approach to learning. If we can create IT professionals who are proficient and enthusiastic, that will help us increase adoption of Microsoft products. In turn, we’ll then see great new applications for our products.
It’s an exciting time to be in IT training. We’re seeing things such as the dramatic impact of the cloud, which is driving training from in-person/instructor-focused to anywhere/anytime virtual training. We know things are changing and we intend to lead the way along with our partners.
It will be a bold mission. Maybe not putting a man on the moon, but for us something just as big. We’ll have to figure things out as we go, take some chances, and be ambitious. We hope you’ll join us as we chart a new path for IT Training through modern learning experiences in this exciting new era for Microsoft.