Microsoft invests €6m in education
The programme will focus on mobile technology, cloud and gaming.
Microsoft is investing €6 million in a programme aimed at helping tackling youth unemployment by educating young people and equip them with the skills to strengthen their chances of working in the IT sector.
The YouthSpark programme, which was announced today with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, includes the Fit2Work initiative, which is aiming to train 10,000 young people in the country over the next three years.
Aimed at 18-25 year olds, the programme will focus on areas such as mobile technology, cloud and gaming, giving participants the chance to access skills currently in demand, work experience, support in developing their CVs and advice from experts.
“Globally Microsoft is focusing on the challenge that is unemployment for youth. We’ve had a number of initiatives in the past but we’re trying to drive a much more cohesive aligned progamme around enabling youth,” said Microsoft Ireland managing director Cathriona Hallahan. “It’s really targeting skills shortage. There is a divide, we’re finding, between the youth who are privileged and have skills, are educated and are able to find opportunities, and those who aren’t. In Ireland, 24.6 per cent of youth between the age of 20 and 24 are unemployed. We’re trying to focus on what’s the opportunity for us to find a solution for that.”
The company has signed up former boxing champion Bernard Dunne as spokesman. Dunne will take a mobile technology core over the next four months as part of the initiative.
Speaking at the launch, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said tackling youth unemployment was a priority for the Government
“We allow a generation of young people to become long-term unemployed,” he said, noting training programmes that had been rolled out by his government over the past two years in an effort to address the issue.
He welcomed Microsoft’s commitment to tackling youth unemployment, and said he was confident the wider YouthSpark programme would have “significant impact” in the years ahead.
The programme has wider applications outside Ireland, Microsoft said.
“I think it’s an exciting opportunity for us to use Ireland as a pilot. This is a challenge for the EU. Using the EU presidency, using Ireland and really trying to see how we can partner with the likes of FIT to make a real difference, and not just to reskill but also see people in employment,” said Ms Hallahan.