Tackling local and global shortage in ICT talent by inspiring female university students
Hong Kong, January 11, 2016 – In Hong Kong, employers are struggling to find ICT talent in an increasingly tech-reliant economy. According to statistics from the Vocational Training Council, there will be a demand for 4,800 workers to join the ICT industry every year in the next four years. The situation in the US is similar, and it is estimated that if the under-representation of women in the field continues, the technology industry will only be able to fill 30% of its available jobs by 2020. Following the success of GirlSpark in the past two years, and upholding the company’s commitment to nurturing young ICT talents in face of staff shortage, the third Microsoft GirlSpark Camp was held on January 4 and from Jan 7 to Jan 9 in collaboration with The Women’s Foundation and Ivey Business School. Inspiring talented female university students from seven universities studying different disciplines to join the ICT industry; this year, Microsoft worked with leaders from the public sector, business and tech industry, non-profitable and entrepreneurial community to create a valuable learning experience for future female leaders.
“This is our third year running the camp, and Microsoft has had great success with GirlSpark. Over 40% of GirlSpark alumni who attained a job after graduation joined the ICT industry,” said Horace Chow, General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong. “However, there is still a lot of work to be done in solving gender diversity and talent shortage issues in ICT. Microsoft hopes to raise public awareness and will lead the way in solving these issues. This year, we extend the program to secondary school students, hoping to stimulate their interests in IT at their early ages..”
At the camp, participants took part in leadership forums, networking opportunities, and career coaching sessions led by innovative leaders from across different industries. The tech industry leaders shared their experiences working in the ICT industry and judged the business case challenges, providing participants with the opportunity to solve real world problems and to receive feedback from the industry’s very best.
To further develop the program, and to better equip camp participants for the real world, this year’s GirlSpark Camp introduced new internship and job placement opportunities at top companies. Over 20 internship and development opportunities with Microsoft and program partners will be offered to participants. These opportunities range from summer internship positions to full time jobs with mentorship support. The Microsoft GirlSpark Camp extends beyond just three three -days, and offers ongoing development for participants, including complimentary tickets to attend major industry events and entrepreneurship programs.
Microsoft inspires young women to join the ICT industry
While more women are showing interest in the technology industry, few pursue it as a career, and many lack the opportunity to learn what working in the ICT industry is like. Microsoft’s GirlSpark Camp aims to educate and bring awareness to young female students, showing them that women from different disciplines can thrive in the ICT industry. This year, Microsoft selected 60 female students to be part of the GirlSpark Camp, of which 72% studied subjects outside of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
Many participants this year decided to take on different roles within the ICT industry. Of the 22 GirlSpark participants that completed a feedback survey, 21 stated they plan to join the ICT industry after graduation. Yody Chiu Mei Ka, a Global Business Studies student at Chinese University of Hong Kong, is one of them. She said, “I’ve always been fascinated by technology, but I have never had much exposure. GirlSpark Camp gave me insight into the variety of roles within the ICT industry and showed me just how interesting it can be.”
“In Hong Kong, despite HK universities having equal numbers of male and female graduates, men still outnumber women in the STEM subjects, and later on, in the workforce in the tech sector. The reasons for this are numerous, from schools and parents not encouraging girls to pursue science and math, to a lack of exposure to female role models, to girls feeling uncomfortable with tech-related male-dominated learning and work environments. This is why we are delighted to be partnering once again with Microsoft on GirlSpark which exposes young women to the breadth and diversity of opportunities available in the tech industry, something which will hopefully inspire more young women in Hong Kong to consider a career in IT,” said Su-Mei Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of The Women’s Foundation.
Microsoft ignites computer science interest at an early age
Recognizing the importance of scouting and developing talent at an early age, Microsoft GirlSpark Camp invited secondary school students to join their camp for the very first time. Microsoft organized an innovative Minecraft coding workshop for students that are part of the Enriched IT Program in Secondary Schools to foster a pro-ICT atmosphere and to stimulate interest within the secondary school community. The Enriched IT Program in Secondary Schools is a collaborative effort between tertiary institutions, the technology industry and the government to scout and cultivate ICT talents at an early age.
“Ivey Business School is very pleased to partner with Microsoft Hong Kong and The Women’s Foundation for the third year on this meaningful initiative. As a leading case method business school, we are delighted to produce a custom case on Enterprise Social for this camp. This case places participants in a real world business situation at Microsoft, for whom they will generate creative and out-of-the-box applications. We are confident that participants’ experience as a Microsoft decision maker will spark productive careers in the technology industry,” said Professor Chris WH Chan, Professor and Associate Dean, Ivey Business School.
 For full details of the report, please visit: http://ncwit.org/thefactsgirls
 For full details of the program, please visit: http://www.ogcio.gov.hk/en/business/industry_support/ict_manpower/enriched_it_programme/
GirlSpark Camp is a ground-breaking four-day program run by Microsoft, The Women’s Foundation and Ivey Business School that inspires university women to pursue career opportunities in technology related fields. The program, which is run exclusively in Hong Kong, is now in its third year and has benefited over 100 female students from 8 universities across Hong Kong and Macau.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. Microsoft Hong Kong was established in 1991.
About The Women’s Foundation
The Women’s Foundation is a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls in Hong Kong through ground-breaking research, impactful and innovative community programmes, and education and advocacy. In addition to its partnership with Microsoft for GirlSpark, the Foundation provides scholarships and hosts speaker and panel events to encourage women and girls to pursue studies and careers in the STEM subjects. For more information, go to www.thewomensfoundationhk.org.
About Ivey Business School
Ivey Business School – Asia (www.ivey.com.hk) at Western University, the first North American business school to establish an Asian campus in Hong Kong in 1998, is Canada’s leading provider of relevant, innovative and comprehensive business education. Ivey Asia offers a top-ranked Executive MBA program, as well as a diverse range of Executive Education programs to over 1,000 executives annually. Renowned for its case method teaching, Ivey Asia is recognized as one of just four exclusive Case Study Method schools globally and is the world’s foremost producer of Asian case studies and largest producer of business cases after Harvard Business School. The Case Study Method draws on extensive research and business experience, where Ivey Asia faculty provide an engaging and intensive educational experience, equipping graduates with the skills and capabilities needed to tackle leadership challenges in today’s complex business world. Ivey also offers world-renowned undergraduate, Masters in Science, and doctoral degree programs at its Campus in London, Ontario, Canada.
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