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The world’s largest software maker Microsoft Corp. (MSFT - Analyst Report) and the Alabama Department of Education together announced the launch of the Alabama Microsoft IT Academy Program. This program is launched to enhance the students’ technology skills.

The students will be certified in Microsoft Office products such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint. The program will be available for all high school students in the state. The program will provide the requisite advantage to Alabama schools, teachers and students to keep pace with the ever-evolving technology sector.

IT certifications are gaining importance in the job market, as certifications are considered a key factor for getting employed. Moreover, Microsoft itself can employ the certified students. Thus, Microsoft will have an ideal workforce for its local businesses.

Microsoft’s efforts to train the local youth for better job opportunities is not restricted to the U.S. Previously, the company initiated a project for opening cyber cafes throughout Brazil to provide educational and job-training activities for the youth.

It is a smart strategy adopted by the software giant. The local youth will become more job worthy and eventually the economy will improve. On the other hand, Microsoft may enjoy opportunities like tax breaks and investments at a lower cost provided by the local governments in these regions.

Similarly, Cisco Systems (CSCO - Analyst Report) and Oracle Corp. (ORCL - Analyst Report) also conduct certification courses to improve skills of IT employees.

Microsoft reported revenue, excluding deferrals, of $16.01 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2013, which were down 11.4% sequentially and 7.9% from last year. The revenue also missed estimates by 2.5%.

Both Microsoft Corp. and Cisco Systems have a Zacks #3 Rank, which implies a Hold rating in the short term (1-3 months), but Oracle has a Zacks #4 Rank, implying a Sell rating.

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