Wayne State, Microsoft partner on tech employability

DETROIT — Wayne State University and Microsoft Corp. announced a new partnership to pilot an employability skills program.

Officials with the company and the university say the program will foster job-ready, employable talent for high-demand technical positions such as cloud computing, data analytics, cybersecurity, AI engineering and more. The goal is to create economic opportunities and a talent pipeline that will strengthen Detroit’s ongoing revitalization.

“At Microsoft, we want to empower everyone to achieve their career aspirations and make sure they can succeed in a technology-driven society,” said Karen Kocher, global general manager, 21st century jobs, skills, and employability for Microsoft. “We aim to move people and technology forward together. We are proud to work with Wayne State as the university provides leadership and opportunities at a key moment in Detroit’s history.”

The initiative seeks to address current and projected shortages of skilled technology workers. In addition, it will explore how technology education can keep up with the swift evolution of technology. This effort to enhance technical learning experiences for students is particularly important as the greater Detroit region strives to become a home for the transforming mobility industry and looks toward employing new technological solutions for addressing health disparities.

“We are a place of opportunity and upward mobility in the heart of Detroit, a city undergoing a significant transformation,” said Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson. “Partnering with Microsoft’s employability initiative will help move the city forward.”

The program extends Microsoft’s commitment to the city. In spring 2018, the company opened a Microsoft Technology Center in downtown Detroit to serve as its Great Lakes regional headquarters, and Microsoft-owned LinkedIn secured a permanent office downtown to meet the needs of its expanded team.

Wayne State and Microsoft have spent the last 18 months exploring other partnership opportunities that will enhance the university’s data systems and impact student success and research initiatives. In 2018, Wayne State and Microsoft launched several programs in Detroit, including a technology curriculum for teachers and students through the Microsoft Imagine Academy and a pilot program in partnership with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, a citywide summer jobs program. Microsoft also supplied HoloLens technology to Wayne State that was used in recruiting efforts for the School of Medicine and will be used to enhance classes and simulation labs with virtual reality and augmented reality learning experiences.

Future projects include a technology skills camp for high school students at Wayne State’s Mike Ilitch School of Business; TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools), a Microsoft program to increase youth access to computer science and computer engineering education; and enhancements to Wayne State’s K-12 STEM learning initiatives in the College of Engineering.

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