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I’ll be at Microsoft Inspire in Washington D.C (July 9–13) presenting a session on Cloud-Enabled Digital Transformation. Digital transformation today is as much about developing talent as it is about developing new solutions. We all know about the skills gap that is one of the top challenges holding back the massive cloud opportunity, so as the opportunity expands, so do the skills and competencies required.

In a 2016 Microsoft Cloud Practice Development study by MDC Research, 21% of respondents said finding and hiring skilled employees was a key pain point. The good news is that there’s never been more opportunity to train with new learning methods to expand your practice’s Azure skills. We have two great options for you: our free Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and our much sought-after Azure certifications.

The Tremendous Value of MOOCs

Our MOOCs are a great way to zero in on the skills you need with our catalog of free online courses, featuring in-depth courseware, videos, labs, and assessments. The self-paced courses take anywhere from 4-18 hours and completing any course from our catalog will earn you a digital certificate of completion, ready to share on your professional networking sites.

The number of courses has nearly tripled since the program started seven months ago. We have already trained more than 88,000 individuals on Azure via the MOOCs and we’ve seen 150,000 courses enrolled. Why are partners finding these courses so valuable? It all comes down to focus and flexibility. MOOCs can be used to train for specific projects or scaled out as required for large groups of employees.

“Microsoft’s Massively Open Online Courses are a great option to build up Azure fundamentals knowledge at mass scale. Employees across the globe can take the training at their own pace. And Azure-experienced employees can focus on specific topics per project requirements or individual interests.”

– Avijit Das, Practice Manager, Wipro Ltd.

New Courses

I also want to alert you to the new courses that went live since my previous post on our MOOCs. These new courses include:

And there are more MOOCs on the way, including:

  • Recovering Data in Azure and SQL Server
  • Azure Stack Operations
  • Azure Stack Deployment
  • DevOps for Databases
  • Mobile DevOps
  • Developing Big Data Solutions with Azure Machine Learning
  • Building Your Azure Toolkit
  • Managing Organizational Data Sources with Azure Data Catalog

Last Chance for Azure MCP Exam Discounts

How valuable are certifications? In the MDC Research study, respondents indicated that it was the fourth most important hiring consideration behind work history, cultural fit, and experience. To gain valuable Microsoft Certified Professional designations to set your practice apart, we continue to offer Azure-focused MCP exams at a deep discount. But time is running out. The MCP exam savings offer ends June 30, so act fast!

Purchase exam vouchers before July 1 and you will still have additional time to pass your exams. Single pack exam vouchers are valid for three months from the purchase date, and triple pack exam vouchers are valid for six months from the purchase date. The discounts include retakes and practice tests.

For more great advice on preparing for an MCP exam, check out the popular Mastering Microsoft Certification Exam Prep video as well as these Azure exam prep sessions hosted on Microsoft Virtual Academy:

Have you taken a Massively Open Online Course? Tell us how you would rate its value in the comments below.