Today’s youth face an opportunity divide – a gap between those who have access to the skills and training they need to be successful, and those who do not. With more than 75 million unemployed youth around the world, and 5 million in Europe alone, we must work together to close this divide in order to secure the future of our youth, and of our global economy. Young people have the economic and innovative potential to drive Europe forward. Their engagement and success in the labor market provide the catalyst for boosting Europe’s economies and fostering competitiveness. But we are currently failing to equip Europe’s youth with the skills to succeed.
In 2012, we announced Microsoft YouthSpark, a company-wide, global initiative to create opportunities for 300 million youth by 2015, including 69 million in Europe. Through 30+ programs and partnerships with more than 350 youth-serving nonprofits, at the close of its second year, Microsoft YouthSpark has created new opportunities for more than 227 million young people in over 100 countries around the world. In Europe, 45 million youth have already taken advantage of training, tools and resources under Microsoft YouthSpark.
Although there is much still to do, we’re inspired by what we’ve seen: young people taking the lead in changing not only their lives but the lives of others around them, making a real impact in their local communities and on the global stage. Check out what they have to say!
Training for employability
Every day, more than three billion people around the world connect to the Internet using computers, tablets and smartphones to find and share information, create virtual work environments, communicate with friends, relatives and coworkers or consume and create digital content. Computers have revolutionized our lives, increasing the productivity and competitiveness of companies in every sector and transforming the way in which people communicate and enjoy their spare time. Democratizing access to technology, reducing the digital divide, improving the employability of youth and giving new opportunities to underserved groups are the joint goals of Microsoft and Esplai Foundation, working together in Spain since 2003.
Young people are constantly using technology, but there is a real challenge in helping them use technology to positively impact their lives. We are committed to understanding their goals, concerns, objectives and needs and, at the same time, provide them the tools, knowledge and opportunities for success that they truly demand, improving their employability and their ability to build their professional future.
For the past 12 years, Microsoft and Esplai Foundation, together with hundreds of NGOs and non-profit organizations in Spain have provided free training on digital literacy to more than 400,000 people. At the same time, we launched an initiative to connect youth and the elderly through technology training, benefiting nearly 25,000 students and seniors in a really unique inter-generational project.
Finally, we have focused in recent years on improving youth employability in Spain, a country facing youth unemployment rates of more than 50%. Through the BecaMOS initiative, we provide free training and certification on Microsoft technologies to 3,000 students per year.
Lluis’s story is a great example of what we are achieving, together with Esplai and other NGOs. Thanks to the BecaMOS project, Lluis received a professional certification highly demanded in the market that helped him get a job. Today, more than half of the job offers in Europe require specific technological knowledge. The European Commission foresees that tby 2020, 90% of jobs in the region will require digital skills. It is essential, therefore, that we continue to train young people in this area as a fundamental enabler of their improved employability.
By Carlos De la Iglesia Fuertes, Citizenship Director, Microsoft Spain.
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