On Wednesday at the Worldwide Partner Conference 2016 in Toronto, Microsoft Corp. has announced a Professional Degree Program (MPD) with the aim of cutting down the skills gap seen across many industries. This is the first online certification program of its kind to offer employer-endorsed, university-caliber for professionals at any stage of their career.

 “The proliferation of cloud technologies and the delivery of software as a service has opened up tremendous revenue opportunities for our partners,” said Steve Guggenheimer, Corporate VP of Developer Platform and Chief Evangelism at Microsoft at the event.

Steve Guggenheimer also explained that the MPD will be offered via edX, as well as through learning as-a-service offerings provided by partners. The MDP available on the edX.org, a non-profit online learning platform founded by Harvard University and MIT is initially offering a degree in ‘Data Science.’

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The company claims that there is noticeable skill gap in the field of data science, so in response to this gap, the American Multinational Technology company has designed the program with a pilot curriculum that comprises ten data science courses.

The courses are offered for free but on completion of course, professionals need to purchase the certificate. The prices of the certificates are not too high. The first certificate costs $25, and the cost of the successive certificates range between $49 and $99.

Microsoft claims that the others partners of the program include DDLS, Fast Lance and NIIT Ltd. And since May, over 200 partners and 650 employees have been evaluating and validating the data science curriculum. Alison Cunard, General Manager, Microsoft Learning Experiences, explained that the approach and tools used by them “for learning need to continually evolve to meet the demands of our device-centric and data-driven world.”

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The ten courses of the MPD data science program includes - Data Science Orientation, Query Relational Data, Analyze and Visualize Data, Understand Statistics, Explore Data with Code, Understand Core Data Science Concepts, Understand Machine Learning, Use Code to Manipulate and Model Data, Develop Intelligent Solutions, Final Project.

“We see this as a fantastic opportunity to provide what our customers have increasingly been asking for, real-world skills — both conceptual and technical — that prepare people to succeed in 21st century careers,” stated Torsten Poels, CEO and chairperson of the board, Fast Lane.

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Well, it is fascinating that big multinational companies like Microsoft and Google are introducing just certificate courses to train the mid-career professionals who require specific skill sets to grow in their professional life. We hope many such courses are added in the future; that benefits both industry and the employees.


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