Microsoft started the first class of a training program for military spouses in Lakewood, Pierce County, this fall.

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Microsoft has expanded its outside training program to support military families, launching a tech-skills class for military spouses.

The Military Spouse Technology Academy started in September with 19 students in Lakewood, near Joint Base Lewis McChord. Students in the 22-week pilot program will learn server and cloud administration skills, to get them ready for careers in information technology and the tech industry.

“We are recognizing what an important sacrifice the spouses make,” said Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s chief of people. “But also the incredible talent and resiliency in skills that exists within the spouse community as well.”

Hogan met some of the students Friday on Microsoft’s campus at an event to celebrate the company’s military employees before Veterans Day. Microsoft created an official employee-resource group for military and veteran employees earlier this year. It now has 600 members — a mix of military employees and allies.

The military group is the eighth employee group at Microsoft, joining others like Blacks at Microsoft and Women at Microsoft. The groups support and advocate for their members within the company.

Microsoft’s pilot program for spouses is similar to a training program the company already operates for veterans and those transitioning out of the military, called the Microsoft Software & Systems Academy.

That 18-week program began at JBLM in 2013 and has expanded to 14 U.S. locations, mostly on or near military bases. It has graduated 1,000 students, and Microsoft thinks it will now be able to graduate 1,000 students each year.

Microsoft said 97 percent of graduates from the program found jobs — the vast majority in the tech industry — or went on to a four-year college.

Students of the Software & Systems program often pay for tuition using the GI Bill, and graduates are guaranteed a job interview with Microsoft or another one of the more than 300 companies supporting the program.

The pilot spousal-training class is being offered for free.

The program is designed to allow students time to care for children and attend class, Microsoft said. A main focus of the program is helping military spouses learn skills that can transfer to many jobs, accommodating the frequent moves that come with being in a military family.