The UK faces a skills shortage and we have launched an initiative today to help tackle this challenge head on. More than 650,000 16-24 year olds are unemployed, 42% of people leave school with fewer than five A-C GCSE and four in 10 young people don’t believe they finished school with the skills required to find employment. It’s a bleak outlook and temporary joblessness can easily become a long term problem, a downward spiral of disappointment leading to despair, and it doesn’t contribute to a healthy economy.
For us here at Microsoft, this is our 30th year in the UK and during those three decades, we’ve helped create thousands of jobs, partnered with more than 30,000 small and medium sized businesses, built a world class R&D centre in Cambridge, and a thriving group of industry leading games studios. We have always recognised the talent, ambition and entrepreneurial spirit that is at the heart of what it means to be British, traits embodied in the Olympics just a few short months ago and that have helped make our business the success it is today. It is in this spirit then that we know how important it is for our future and the future of businesses across the country that we help young people acquire useful skills and become more employable because if we don’t, then none of us will have a successful future. We cannot stand by and watch young people struggle.
So yesterday, we met the Prime Minister to launch our “Get On” programme to help 300,000 young people in the UK break out of the cycle of rejection and towards the world of work. “Get On” is about giving people the tools to succeed. We will give them the skills they need both in school and at work. We will support them in their training and their first steps into jobs. We will work in partnership with the small businesses and start-ups to access the talent they need to grow. In short, we want to change the refrain that says people don’t have the right skills, aspiration or ability.
It’s a truism that for businesses to succeed in this country, we need to be ambitious and work together, but we must to act now to make that ambition real. We have to try and turn this around and we want to play our part. Our mission is to enable people and businesses to realise their full potential. ‘Get On’ will help them do exactly that.