In a challenging economy, one way to ensure that you’re ahead of the curve is to build your skills. Whether you’re just starting out, or have years of experience, there are probably skill areas that, if you pushed them to the next level, would help you be more secure in your current job, or improve your prospects for your next one.

One avenue for building those skills is the MSDN Ramp-Up program:

What Is RampUp?

Ramp Up is a free, online, community-based learning program, with a number of different tracks that will help you build your portfolio of professional development skills. Ramp Up has a solid foundation of premium technical content from subject-matter gurus, and provides easy-to-access content in a variety of forms that guide you in learning the important skills. Join Ramp Up (it's free!) and help advance your career - click on a track now to start!

Ramp-up provides a guided path to improving your knowledge in various selected tracks, from Visual Studio for Java developers, to Visual Studio 2008, to SharePoint for Developers. Each track provides papers, clinics, and other resources for learning about that specific technology. There are also forums available for discussions with your peers.

The site does require a Live ID for sign-in, but is free for all. In my book, free’s a pretty good price, any day.

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