Guest post by Melissa Pailthorp, Senior Manager Community Affairs, Central and Eastern Europe

Tvoy Kurs (“Your Course”) celebrated its first year in Moscow last week, convening project coordinators from the  140+ centers in 82 cities across all of Russia’s 20 regions to discuss progress and share learning.  Above are just three recent examples of the numerous success stories coming from this project.  Tvoy Kurs coordinators, from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok, have worked to provide over 73,000 Russians workshops and eSkills training this past year, including 55,000 who mastered the Digitial Literacy course.  And the impact is impressive.  Out of 5,430 participants surveyed last summer, 26% report that they were employed or kept existing jobs, 43% improved work performance, 6% got better working conditions, and 6% started their own business and are getting extra income.  More project details can be explored here.

Tvoy Kurs represents Microsoft’s commitment to work together with NGO partner PH International to help Russia accomplish national goals in digital skills and inclusion.  Given Russia’s scope and size, our goal is ambitious:  to provide employability-related eSkills to 1 million people over three years.

But even more impressive than the scope and scale of this program is the commitment behind it – from individual coordinators, employment offices and local communities to top federal leadership, in both public and private spheres.  Most working on this project do so as volunteers, contributing time and energy to ensure that anyone across Russia’s vast territory can get the skills they need to succeed.   In other words, this program is bringing IT skills and employability assistance across an incredibly broad scope through massive community engagement. 

Also unique is the commitment of our own Microsoft Russia employees to this effort.  Read on for words from Ekaterina Fedotova, Tvoy Kurs project director, managing on behalf Microsoft NGO grantee, PH International, about their passion and contribution to the effort.

Since the very beginning of the project Microsoft employees demonstrated big interest to this citizenship initiative of the company and were involved in promoting the program and developing contacts with potential partners. Very soon the interest transformed into real passion and commitment to support Tvoy Kurs program development in their home cities all over Russia.

Today Microsoft employees located both in Moscow and in regional offices are effective advocates and supporters of Tvoy Kurs. They analyze societal environment, establish contacts with education institutions, NGOs, local administrations, disseminate information on the initiative among wide audiences, identify potential centers, facilitate partnerships with local organizations, coordinate and participate in public events.

This has been a great support for PHI's efforts to recruit new centers and manage the program in various, often very remote, Russian regions. Involvement of Microsoft employees as local experts and program advocates in the regions as well as coordinated and combined efforts of Microsoft nd PH make the whole program stronger, more efficient and trustworthy. Have you seen such involvement anywhere else? We think it's quite unique and we are very proud of it.

In 2011, the Your Course: Digital Literacy Program is planning to work with 120 organizations and assist over 60, 000 Russians in mastering computer skills to help them increase their employment opportunities, stay in the workforce, use e-government services and all the possibilities that ICTs present. Coordinators will be assisted in their work through webinars, sharing training materials, expert consultations, developing a special program toolkit and constant support from PH staff. YCDL will also be a part of Russian and international events,  such as Child Safety Online Week and European Get Online Week 2011.

Onward with OUR COURSE!

The second year of Tvoy Kurs is off to a great start.  We look forward to celebrating further success in 2011 through this dynamic community effort!

Yaroslavl “Tvoy Kurs Helped Me Find a Job”

clip_image002Leokadia Kisel, a former educator from Yaroslavl, wanted to continue working after her retirement and was excited to be offered a position in accounting with a local housing cooperative. However, she soon discovered that the job called for advanced computer skills, given all the calculations and paperwork involved. After reading about “Tvoy Kurs” in a local newspaper, Mrs. Kisel completed the training course and secured the job.

 

Chelyabinsk “Keeping a Job Thanks to YCDL Certificate”

clip_image003Irina Snegiryova from Chelyabinsk works as a secretary with a federal institution. She took part in the promotional campaign organized by Tvoy Kurs and successfully passed the Digital Literacy Certificate Test, receiving the YCDL certificate. This confirmation of her digital proficiency enabled Irina to keep her employment and gave her a welcome sense of job security.

 

Kirov “Onwards and Upwards with Computer Skills”

clip_image005Thanks to her Digital Literacy training, Kseniya Kotukhova, a third year philology student of Kirov State University, upgraded her word processing and image editing skills and, consequently, was offered a training position at a local magazine with a possible extension of this training experience into a more permanent working arrangement.

 

 

For more information on Microsoft’s Citizenship effort please visit:

Microsoft.com/Citizenship

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