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Microsoft Extends Office Training Online

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A computer on your desk at work equals a 17-percent pay raise, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s not so much the machine, it’s the skills of the person working it. When answering the job ad, she was able to tell recruiters she knew how to use Excel.

In most office environments, its not just about knowing how to check email or use a Web browser. Current and prospective employees are expected to know their way around a computer – and usually that involves skills with a number of Microsoft products. Even more telling of the importance of computer and technical skills, Microsoft has done research that shows that the most upwardly mobile employees tend to be early adopters of technology, who use them to do their job more efficiently.

“Both the business decision makers and the information workers themselves noted that there were a number of individuals in their companies who were considered influential because they were perceived to be very effective at their jobs,” said John Smithwick, group product manager for Microsoft’s Work Essentials team. These individuals, he said, “almost universally are early and effective technology adopters.”

It appears the Beast of Redmond understands the impact it has had on the work world, which is why it offers a free online tool for managers looking for ways to cut their training budgets, and for the masses of want-ad hopefuls beating the pavement.

The Microsoft Office Work Essentials program, found at Microsoft’s website, has around 600 templates, tools, articles, simulations and videos designed for the information worker. They focus on specific job roles and industries with how-to guides to performing everyday office tasks.

“One of the biggest challenges information workers face is just being able to take the time to think through how the technology tools they have on their desktop can help them address those everyday needs,” said Smithwick. “We’re trying to save them that time.”

They’re also trying to save companies money. Dan Jones, lead trainer for Converium, a multinational reinsurance company that employs more than 600 people in 18 offices around the globe, saves $300 per employee annually using Microsoft’s free online tutorials.

“When employees want to learn how to perform a specific task with Office, all I need to do is direct them to the Work Essentials, where they can find a training module, see how long it lasts and fit the training into their schedule,” says Jones. The website requires no registration, pass codes, or additional software.

It’s not just for basic technological instruction, the program can also help employees and jobseekers making career transitions. “We’ve got all sorts of industry related articles written by experts from different job families that could inform candidates as they go into interviews and talk to different companies,” said Smithwick. “So if someone is making a transition from a sales role to a finance role, we want to provide the free tools and templates that can help them do their jobs even better.”

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