The Maricopa Community Colleges Launch Skills and Employability Initiative With Microsoft to Benefit Local Students and Regional Workforce Development


TEMPE, Ariz., May 11, 2021 - The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) today announced the launch of the Cloud Skills Challenge designed to build employability skills and accelerate the next generation of students for the growing digital economy and workforce in the region. The Cloud Skills Challenge (CSC) is set to launch on May 24, 2021, and is a time-bound, gamified experience using Microsoft Learn that encourages rapid learning of Microsoft cloud technologies.

The challenge allows participants to build in-demand skills to advance their career opportunities in cloud using Microsoft technologies, covering topics like Microsoft Azure AI, DevOps, Microsoft 365, Azure IoT, data science, and more. With over 149 million new technology jobs expected to be created worldwide in the next five years, the challenge helps address the growing demand for a skilled workforce.

On May 24, The Maricopa Community Colleges will launch the Microsoft Cloud Skills Challenge for students, faculty, staff, and community members to expand their skill set. The Cloud Skills Challenge is a 30-day accelerated learning environment that puts learners against peers in a race for knowledge and future-ready employability skills with a goal to see 1500 participants complete their certification. Upon completion of the challenge, students will have the opportunity to earn industry recognized Microsoft certifications, to include Azure Fundamentals, Azure AI Fundamentals, Azure Data Fundamentals, and Microsoft Power Platform Fundamentals.

The skills and certification opportunities will continue to be offered to Maricopa students throughout the school year. These certifications also bridge nicely with existing MCCCD accelerated learning programs in networking, cybersecurity, software development, and analytics. For the Maricopa Community Colleges, the alignment with a global technology industry leader is key to attaining its mission and goals.

“We are delighted to forge this new alliance with Microsoft in recognizing the importance of digital skills and the future workforce,” explained MCCCD Interim Chancellor, Dr. Steven R. Gonzales. “We believe partnering with leading companies such as Microsoft helps us attract the best and brightest of students, provides an edge for our students and faculty in preparing the future workforce and helps us fulfill our commitment to create a pipeline of talent and future innovation for the regional business community. The Maricopa Community Colleges have IT Institutes across the Valley that exist to train the future IT workforce for excellence in emerging technologies, and this initiative is well suited for this important work.”

“Microsoft is pleased to work with Maricopa Community Colleges to bring the Cloud Skills Challenge to life with students across the district. Through this challenge we hope to inspire students with the potential of technology to drive innovation and change the world, while inspiring them to think about their future careers,” said Anthony Salcito, Vice President, Education at Microsoft. 

Interested individuals are encouraged to visit for additional information.

For more information about the Maricopa Community Colleges alliance with Microsoft or to partner with MCCCD to create similar programs contact Dr. Brianna DeGeus, MCCCD Deputy District Director for Economic Development and Strategic Partnerships at


Media Contact: Dasi Danzig, 480-268-6766,

About the Maricopa Community Colleges

The Maricopa County Community College District includes ten regionally-accredited colleges – Chandler-Gilbert, Estrella Mountain, GateWay, Glendale, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Rio Salado, Scottsdale, and South Mountain – and the Maricopa Corporate College, serving approximately 100,000 students with two-year degrees, certificates, and university transfer programs.