Microsoft has announced their Student Advantage programme, ensuring all students at New Zealand schools and academic institutions have access to the productivity tools used in most Kiwi workplaces, before they enter the workforce.
Beginning 1 December 2013, every state and integrated school, and tertiary provider in New Zealand that licenses Office for staff and faculty will get Office 365 ProPlus for students at no additional cost.
This comes off the back of The IDC Workforce Readiness Study, released this week by Microsoft, which reveals the key skills that people looking for work in high-growth, high-salary jobs need.
Behind core communication skills and attention to detail, the third most important skill for prospective employees is knowing how to use Microsoft Office.
Paul Muckleston, MD of Microsoft New Zealand, says Student Advantage gives schools and academic institutions the tools they need to better prepare students for entering the workforce, without spending additional money.
“The impact of Student Advantage for New Zealand students is going to be far reaching," he says.
"We believe it will help address the country’s challenge of ensuring equity of access for all students to eLearning, as more than one million students will be eligible for Office 365 ProPlus under this new benefit.”
Theresa Bosch, Deputy Principal of Baradene College, adds: “This announcement reinforces our school’s decision to move to a one-to-one programme based on Windows.
"Our students will now get no-cost access to the best tools for learning on their personal device. With Student Advantage we will be able to deliver a true one-to-one learning experience.”
Office 365 ProPlus includes all the familiar and full Office applications and can be installed on up to five devices per person.
The tech giant says schools that combine Office 365 ProPlus with the entitlements it receives via Microsoft’s School Agreement with the Ministry of Education will give students access to the same set of productivity tools and services used by leading New Zealand companies.
Mark Marshall, Director of ICT at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT), says Student Advantage will level the playing field for his students.
They will now all be able to access the rich set of productivity tools available in the Office ProPlus suite on their own devices.
“Student Advantage makes our Office 365 for Education platform even more valuable for students," he says.
"We already deliver learning programmes that take advantage of this rich set of productivity tools, and the fact that students now have access to the Office Pro Plus suite will enable them to work in a more flexible way, either on their own devices or those belonging to the Institution.
“With every CPIT student in the classroom able to access these great tools, we can integrate the full capabilities of applications like OneNote and Excel into our teaching and learning approach to support greater student engagement and improved learning outcomes.
"It means every student will be able to use the same tools as they will encounter in the commercial world, which will enhance both their learning and their work readiness."
The IDC Workforce Readiness Study suggests that while a number of positions require technical skills, students need knowledge and cognitive skills before they are ready for the workforce.
The IDC study identified 20 of the most common skills in-demand for the top 60 high-growth, high-salary jobs for the future. Those skills include:
1. Oral and written communication skills
3. Microsoft Office
4. Problem-solving skills
5. Organisational skills