By Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO, Coursera

Today, we’re excited to announce the new Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Specialization, a collaboration with new industry partner Microsoft. Available today, the beginner Specialization will prepare learners for the Microsoft Certified AZ-900 Azure Fundamentals Exam and help kick-start their cloud careers. Amid a rapidly changing world of work, certification programs from technology companies such as Microsoft are highly relevant. A 2018 Pearson VUE study reported that nearly 35% of technical professionals said getting certified led to salary or wage increases and 26% reported job promotions.

The Specialization comes amid rapid cloud adoption. Organizations are increasing investments in digital transformation, and consumers are relying more on streaming, e-commerce, and other cloud-supported services. However, as demand soars, the industry faces a cloud talent shortage. According to Burning Glass, the number of Azure-related jobs is projected to grow roughly 38% over the next ten years. 

To prepare learners for in-demand cloud roles, Microsoft’s new, beginner-level Specialization explores foundational Azure concepts around security, privacy, cost management, and more. The four-course program includes hands-on projects and is designed to be completed in five months, with two hours of coursework per week. Upon completion, learners will receive a 50% discount* on the Azure exam, which they can sign up for directly on the Coursera platform. 

“At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more,” said Kim Akers, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Worldwide Learning. “To make this happen, we need to ensure everyone has access to the education and skills they need to be successful—this includes expanding ways and places to learn. This is why I’m pleased to be partnering with Coursera, where we’re able to bring our Microsoft learning paths to their learning platform and, together, expose Microsoft technology to a whole new set of learners—many of whom are being introduced to cloud for the first time.”

A significant gender gap exists in cloud-based roles, with women accounting for only 12% of cloud computing workers worldwide. To help address this, Microsoft has partnered with Women in Cloud to provide over 600 scholarships for eligible Women in Cloud members in the US. Scholarship recipients will receive free access to the new Azure Fundamentals Specialization as well as Microsoft’s upcoming AI Fundamentals Specialization and Data Fundamentals Specialization, both scheduled to launch later in May. 

With partners like Microsoft, we’re continually working on flexible programs to help learners develop in-demand skills. Learn more and sign up for the Microsoft AZ-900 Azure Fundamentals Specialization today. 

* The exam discounts are first-come-first-serve and may end at any time.