As the world begins to reopen and businesses continue to adjust to a new reality post-COVID-19, the need for a more tech-savvy workforce will be paramount. The Microsoft Global Skills Initiative is a multimillion-dollar investment supported by robust collaborative partnerships. The initiative seeks to increase digital skills to equip 25 million people worldwide by the end of 2020 with professional development opportunities to help get them back to work. The recently launched Accelerate: Texas reflects the US-based implementation of the broader global program. This statewide training initiative is an extension of the previously announced Accelerate: Houston.
Through Accelerate: Texas, Microsoft and our partners are investing in professional development programs for the Texas education community, inclusive of both educators and students in grades K-16. Further, community members who have had their careers upended due to a recessive economic climate as result of COVID-19 will benefit from increased exposure to STEM skills development. The result will positively impact more residents as they seek out high-demand jobs in more technical fields.
Support from Texas Governor Greg Abbott
In collaboration with Microsoft, project partners are taking on the ambitious and innovative endeavor to make Texans more competitive in the job market. Governor Greg Abbott believes that this revolutionary initiative “will provide Texans and Texas students with the skills they need.”
Watch Texas Governor Abbott express his support for the announcement below:
The timing for these new developments couldn’t be better. Texans need to get back to work now in roles that help them be a part of the economic solution as the state recovers from challenges posed by the pandemic. Technology will undoubtedly play a role as the job market continues to transform, with more businesses and schools shifting to remote access and virtual learning experiences.
Training programs and support for Texas students
Microsoft and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) are collaborating on a range of digital skills programs statewide to emphasize STEM engagement and spark talent pipeline growth within the K-12 student community. This collaboration will also provide professional development opportunities for kindergarten through college educators, thought leaders, and the education NGO ecosystem. Workforce development opportunities will also be available for high school and college students, as well as parents and community members seeking to enhance their technical skills and business acumen.
Statewide programs created to propel Texas communities forward
Accelerate: Texas will provide digital upskilling in K-12 education and through new city-centered programs with Microsoft.
Some of the opportunities coming statewide with Accelerate: Texas include:
Through the Digital Alliance and TEA, the academy will help high school students statewide with a targeted curriculum that will build technical competencies to position them for high-demand jobs in STEM fields. Whether progressing to college or directly into jobs after high school, students will be more prepared to succeed and thrive in a digitally transformed economy.
Texas is positioned to be the first state in the country to take part in a statewide Imagine Cup Junior competition. This competition provides high school students (aged 13-18) an opportunity to be exposed to technology. This exposure will teach students how technology and digital skills can have a positive impact in their future. The 2021 global challenge focuses on AI, and introduces students to Microsoft’s AI for Good initiatives, which will help them produce solutions for social, cultural, and environmental causes. It’s also a great way to encourage students to develop strong communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity skill sets.
Future Ready A(i) Forum (FRAF)
For industries that are taking the lead in the economic recovery, FRAF will provide digital training for skills needed to build and support a better future for Texas. Program participants will have an opportunity to enroll in live and on-demand sessions centering on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and IoT, with a specific emphasis on advanced manufacturing, energy transformation, and autonomous vehicle design and development.
YouthSpark AI and DigiCamps
With the right skills training, students can begin to imagine their future as technologists, scientists, or even as entrepreneurs. This program will work with youth to articulate their goals and lay initial groundwork to build a career that matches their passions as part of a tech-driven workforce. Participants can be in either middle school or high school statewide.
Leadership Educator Accelerate Program (LEAP)
This 12-week fellowship program will help emerging leaders in education build technical and business skills to position them for opportunities beyond academia. LEAP fellows will provide guidance and insights into key drivers that are influencing the future of work.
Texas TEALS Expansion
Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) is a Microsoft Philanthropies program that connects classroom teachers with industry volunteers to grow sustainable and impactful computer science programs. Program volunteers support will product support for classroom teachers as they learn how to teach computer science in classrooms over time. TEALS currently supports 108 computer science classes and pathways at 84 schools in 25 towns and cities statewide, including the 5 largest metro areas of Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, and El Paso.
LinkedIn Digital Skills Training
Microsoft will partner with Texas to pilot a program that focuses on skill development for high school-aged students in communities statewide. This includes supporting recruitment and retention for government employees and will offer the delivery of on-demand training for certain jobs, skill sets, and experience levels. This is a comprehensive technology initiative that will build on data and digital technology.
Accelerate: Texas is powered by partnerships
The full Accelerate: Texas initiative partner list includes Bell, The Ion, the University of Houston College of Technology, Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD), City of Dallas, NASA, STEMuli, Big Thought, Stedman Graham & Associates, Tribute to Valor, National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), the Dallas Regional Chamber, and the Irving Chamber of Commerce.
Below are some highlights of partnership contributions:
- The STEMuli Microsoft Accelerate Initiative provides mentorship and skills development programming to students from economically challenged backgrounds. Students are matched with participating industry partners that are aligned with their interests. In addition to mentorship, these companies also provide internships and free live workshops for students.
- The Dallas ISD is the second largest school district in Texas and the 14th largest in the country. This district currently supports nearly 154,000 students in PreK through grade 12 in 230 schools. There are 22,000 education professionals that work in the Dallas ISD. Microsoft recently adopted South Oak Cliff High School’s PTECH academy in Dallas, delivering a series of career mentorship opportunities, digital skilling and STEM programming for students and teachers.
- Microsoft and the University of Houston College of Technology will provide innovation skills training pilot programs in addition to digital technology upskilling throughout the state. These complementing activities champion the State of Texas with a focus on underserved communities to create sustainable ecosystems opportunity and cultures of innovation that apply ingenuity and technology to solve problems, improve lives, and enhance the economy.
- In collaboration with Microsoft and the Digital Alliance, Bell is bringing the Vertical Robotics Competition to both the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Austin. This collaboration will provide developer access to AerOS through a prize challenge and hackathons to local universities and the start-up community.
- Microsoft partnered with Tribute to Valor in 2018 and launched STEMliner, with Envoy, American Airlines, DISD, Purdue University, and NASA. This program is an effort that has introduced more than 100 high school students to STEM academic and career opportunities through an immersive multiday hands-on experience. Through the Digital Alliances, this program will further the partnership through continued joint engagement with students across the state to support character development, leadership development, and STEM training.
- Bell is collaborating with Microsoft and the Digital Alliance to bring the Vertical Robotics Competition to both the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Austin. The collaboration will provide developer access to AerOS through prize challenge and hackathons to universities and the start-up community.
- The Hacking STEM team and NASA partnered to produce the Day of Data to bring opportunities for students to explore how data powers our astronauts and space missions. On November 2, they will celebrate 20 years of humans living and working aboard the International Space Station with live events, lesson plans, and virtual experiences.
The cooperation and involvement of this unique collaboration will further the state’s goal of ensuring that Texans continue to thrive in a competitive job market as the economy recovers, all while empowering those hit hardest by joblessness amidst COVID-19 interruptions.
Digital transformation will take Texas to a better tomorrow
A pandemic has changed the way residents thrive, how communities sustain themselves, and how our economy rebuilds. Accelerate: Texas will continue to make the Lone Star State a progressive economic driver for the future. Technology and STEM-related fields will continue to be in demand and are an essential component to a thriving economic outlook.
The future can be better and brighter for all Texans, and ambitious partnerships like Accelerate: Texas are critical in confirming that reality.
*Educators can register today on behalf of their students at www.imaginecup.com/junior to receive access to the Imagine Cup Junior resource kit, which includes educator guides, student guides, lesson slides, an AI webinar series, and hackathon. Rules and regulations can be found at https://aka.ms/ICJRulesTexas. In addition to all students who take part being entered into the global challenge, Microsoft will also recognize the top 3 team submissions in Texas, giving them the opportunity to have a mentoring session with a Microsoft Director.