Microsoft puts €6m into training scheme
Cathriona Hallahan, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Bernard Dunne at the launch of YouthSpark at Microsoft. photograph: niall carson/pa
Microsoft is investing €6 million in a programme aimed at tackling youth unemployment by educating people and equipping 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 in attendance, includes the Youth2Work initiative, which aims to train 10,000 young people in the State over the next three years.
Aimed at 18- to 25-year-olds, it will focus on areas such as mobile technology, cloud and gaming, giving participants the chance to develop skills currently in demand, access 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 programme around enabling youth,” said Microsoft Ireland managing director Cathriona Hallahan.
“It’s really targeting skills shortages. 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 young people 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 boxing champion Bernard Dunne as spokesman. He will take a mobile technology core module over four months as part of the initiative.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said tackling youth unemployment was a priority for the Government. “We cannot allow a generation of young people to become long-term unemployed,” he said, noting training programmes that had been rolled out over the past two years.
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 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 [Fastrack to IT] to make a real difference, and not just to reskill but also see people in employment,” said Ms Hallahan.