Microsoft Corp. is giving away nearly 24,000 vouchers to North Carolina residents who want to improve their computer skills so they can improve their lot in the work force.

Gov. Beverly Perdue and the software giant announced Thursday in Charlotte the state's portion of Microsoft's Elevate America program. The company wants to offer technology training to 2 million Americans over the next three years.

The 23,700 vouchers will be distributed over the next 90 days. They will provide free online training for Windows and Office software or advanced technical training. A recipient also may take the Microsoft Business Certification exam free of charge.

The vouchers are being distributed through the state community college system, Department of Commerce and Employment Security Commission.