Microsoft Investments in Further Education and Skills

With technology becoming ever-more important for the economy’s progression, it is imperative that students gain the necessary skills to obtain those jobs which are essential to the new, technological economy of the 21st century. Microsoft's investments into education offer the opportunity to deliver this change, and ensure that Further Education students continue to graduate with the relevant skills to help develop the economy.

In order for Microsoft to deliver the best experience of its technologies, it needs employees with the right skills and understanding of those technologies. While these can be applied user skills, the skills to support our implementations, and to develop creative and relevant new applications, are also important. 

The main role of Further Education is to deliver relevant educational skills into the economy. As most students go to college in order to learn skills that will give them a better future, they rely on FE, Microsoft, and other businesses to work together to provide the necessary skills.  This partnership has worked well in the past, but changes need to be made in order to deliver the necessary 21st century skills to ensure continued success.  This means that there is an opportunity to change what we do together to be even more successful both now and in the future. 


Right now, colleges are good at delivering a set of skills that was in demand in the past, but jobs are emerging in new areas.  Microsoft can help to make these new areas of the economy a success, but we can’t do it without the help of Further Education, which is why we invest in helping you make the necessary changes to be successful.  In the past, Further Education has done a great job of delivering application user skills into the Microsoft Economy, but today’s students are digital natives and come into college with these skills already in place. It is the skills of collaboration, remote communication, web design and app development that are now needed by employers, and so should be delivered by colleges.  Only focusing on traditional application user skills will not deliver graduate success.

Infrastructure skills are in demand now, and we estimate that there are 60,000 job vacancies in the Microsoft Economy right now for colleges to focus on.  The problem is that courses teaching these skills struggle to attract students, as they can seem difficult or boring.  Up until now, the Microsoft economy has created little demand for gaming and application developers, but Xbox has recently become the number one by units platform both in the UK and worldwide. Furthermore, Windows 8, a single operating platform for PCs, tablets, phones and gaming boxes, will be launched in October, with the biggest application marketplace the world has ever known at its core.  The economic opportunity for graduates with the right skills that will emerge from the Windows 8 launch is incredibly large, and by focusing on delivering the IT creativity skills needed, not just in IT but across all curriculums, FE can really take advantage of this opportunity!

As the main provider of vocational skills into the UK economy, Further Education should be accessing the many investments made available to education by Microsoft in the form of academic programmes, free software, competitions and other activities, which are all designed to make IT relevant and interesting to students.

Free Faculty and Student programmes of interest

Each of the following programmes can help to make academic staff, IT support and students themselves more informed, supported and motivated about acquiring the skills for the economy of the future.

  • IT Academy - A Microsoft annual membership program that helps academic institutions deliver IT training on topics ranging from desktop application skills to networking and developer technologies for IT professionals.
  • Imagine Cup - A Microsoft competitive event that encourages young people to apply their imagination, their passion, and their creativity to technology innovations.
  • Academic Search - Microsoft Academic Search is a free service developed by Microsoft Research to help students and researchers quickly and easily find academic content, researchers, institutions, and activities.
  • Faculty connection - A Microsoft web portal providing information, technical resources, training and software tools at no cost to teachers of computing or technical classes.
  • Partners in Learning (PiL) - An internal website sponsored by the Education Solutions Group (ESG), containing marketing information including best practices, tools, and reports.
  • DreamSpark - A Microsoft subscription service that provides high school, college, and university students with Microsoft software design and development tools at no charge.
  • Curriculum resources – A range of resources provided by Microsoft to help schools make the most of technology, including lesson plans, templates and ideas for class projects that help teachers integrate ICT with learning.
  • Microsoft Student blog and Facebook
  • Faculty connection blog and LinkedIn
  • Enrolment for Server Programme Academic, (ESPA) A way of getting as many Microsoft datacentre technologies and associated external connectors  as you want for a known fixed annual cost


So as you can see, in order to make sure the workers for the Microsoft Economy are available to meet demand, and to help our customer to realise their vision of the future, we invest heavily in education.  The challenge that faces us all is how to put these investments together to deliver a meaningful outcome.  That’s where you can help!

If you decide that you want to try and use these investments please contact the Further Education Business Manager for the UK, Mike Morris, (

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