Microsoft has kicked off "The Microsoft Software & Systems Academy" to provide software development and testing training to active duty military personnel who are transitioning back to civilian life. The program is a 16-week course that prepares participants to earn certifications as developers, applications engineers and IT project managers. Microsoft Logo NEWAfter a pilot program run with Saint Martin's University at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State, the academy will be available on bases in California and Texas. It will then expand to additional locations. Members of all military branches can participate, as can members of the National Guard and Reserves. The program is run on the bases themselves, simplifying attendance for those on active duty. The first group of 22 will finish up in December, then be hired as entry-level testers by either Microsoft or Launch Consulting, the firm administering the program. "Unemployment rates are higher among veterans because it's not always easy for service members to understand where their skills apply outside the military," said Joint Base Lewis-McChord Commander H. Charles Hodges, Jr., in a statement. "This program cuts through the uncertainty and helps service members transition into their next missions in the civilian workforce."