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Microsoft building skills in youngsters

Challenge

Enable young people to develop ICT skills.

Problem

With the global downturn of 2008 came a rise in youth unemployment, a pressing issue for countries seeking long-term growth and a stable society. Youth unemployment rates are double those for adults. Ensuring young people are trained in relevant skills is one part of tackling this problem. Information communications technology (ICT) is becoming increasingly pervasive in all sectors of the economy, and an ICT -iterate workforce is an important factor for a country’s competitiveness. Increasingly, companies are stepping in to ensure a pipeline of talent as governments are limited by a lack of resource.

Solution

Microsoft established YouthSpark to bridge the divide between those who have access to ICT skills training and entrepreneurship opportunities, and those who don’t. The initiative comes from a belief that innovative technology education can inspire the world's youth to empower themselves. Microsoft has long worked to improve access to digital technology but realised that students as young as six needed expanded opportunities for education and empowering to believe they can realise their dreams.

YouthSpark promises to provide support to as many as 300 million young people from the ages of six to 24 at a cost of US$500 million (£309m) over the next three years.

Programmes include:
  • Skype In The Classroom, to connect thought-leaders across the world with students
  • DreamSpark to provide design and developer software programmes at no cost to students who otherwise would not be able to afford them
  • Kodu Game Lab to enable creative development of games and educational material
  • BizSpark to link older students to investors, mentors and other entrepreneurs.

Microsoft says the way it conceptualised YouthSpark could allow millions to use it as a lifelong career-building curriculum, culminating in the Microsoft Students to Business initiative that has so far linked 15,000 students to internships and jobs with Microsoft's partners and customers in 65 nations.

Benefits

Engaging social programmes for Microsoft staff
Building a future innovative workforce and loyal customer base
Potential source of new ideas for products

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