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Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times reporter Sharon Chan.

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April 13, 2009 12:48 PM

Free Microsoft software training for 30,000 in Washington state

Posted by Sharon Chan

Microsoft will offer 30,000 vouchers for free software training to help people in Washington get learn how to use Microsoft software.

Gov. Chris Gregoire and Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith made the announcement this morning at a press conference at the YWCA Opportunity Place in downtown Seattle. Microsoft first announced its job training program, Elevate America, in February and Washington is the first state to roll it out.

"We have thought long and hard about how do we come out of this deep recession stronger and better prepared for the 21st century," Gregoire said.

Both employed or unemployed people are eligible for the vouchers, which can be used to take online courses, worth $100 to $300, or certification testing, which is worth $85. Click here to sign up between now and May.

Vouchers expire in July. People will need an Internet-connected computer to access the training. People without computers can get access to one at centers such as the YWCA's Opportunity Place.

"It will help people who are unemployed get skills needed to get their next job, and it will help people employed to keep their jobs and get the skills they need," Smith said. He estimated the economic value of the vouchers at $3 million at the low end.

In separate news, Smith declined to comment on reports that Microsoft and Yahoo are talking about a search partnership.

He also said there has been no change in outlook on layoffs at Microsoft. The company still plans to cut 5,000 total jobs through 2010, including the 1,400 announced in January. Smith also said the company still plans to create 2,000 new jobs in that period.

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