In the presence of the Ireland Chief of Government, M. Enda Kenny, T.D., Microsoft announced today details of its YouthSpark programme in Ireland with an investment of €6 million by the company, and a target to empower 30,000 youth to change their future over the next three years. The programme includes a range of educational initiatives, software donations for youth focused non-profit organisations as well as support for entrepreneurial initiatives.
As part of the YouthSpark programme, Microsoft and FIT have come together to develop Youth2Work to help tackle Ireland’s youth unemployment problem. It is a training and development programme targeted at 18–25 year olds, giving them information, advice and access to ‘in-demand’ skills, work experience and interview and CV development support. Complementing existing government funded interventions, this youth focused initiative it aims to reach 10,000 unemployed youth over the next three years helping to strengthen their chances of securing work in the IT sector.
The young people will be encouraged to do courses in areas including mobile technology, cloud computing and gaming. Microsoft supported FIT in the development of the course content and curriculum and each has valuable industry recognised Microsoft accreditation.
Bernard Dunne has been announced as the Youth2Work Champion. A former WBA Super Bantamweight World Champion and now an accomplished broadcaster and author, Bernard Dunne is an example of someone who has continually acquired new skills and has evolved his career in the process. To show his support for the Youth2Work initiative and to highlight the accessibility of the training, Bernard will complete a mobile technology course over the next four months.
Speaking at the YouthSpark launch Taoiseach Enda Kenny, T.D. said: “The Government's top priority is to get Ireland working again. We are committed to addressing the issue of youth unemployment as we cannot allow a generation to become long term unemployed. In responding to this challenge we are implementing our Pathways to Work reform programme, which has radically transformed how the State supports jobseekers to get back into the work force. In addition, we have launched a series of training intervention programmes over the past two years to help tackle youth unemployment and to promote ICT skills training. The issue of youth unemployment has also been prioritised in our EU Presidency.
“I welcome Microsoft’s commitment to supporting our efforts by rolling out a series of measures to address the youth unemployment challenge. I am confident that YouthSpark will have a significant impact over the years ahead, while the scale of the Youth2Work initiative, being rolled out in partnership with FIT, will deliver large numbers of training places immediately. This will be a great opportunity for our young people who are anxious to acquire new skills and kick start their careers.”
Commenting about the launch of YouthSpark in Ireland, Cathriona Hallahan, recently appointed MD for Microsoft Ireland said: “While the economic indicators are beginning to improve, a major concern for the future is the high level of youth unemployment. I welcome the Government’s commitment to addressing this problem and was delighted to see that it is a priority for the EU Presidency. “As a company, we feel that we have a responsibility to develop solutions to this major challenge. By investing in YouthSpark, and specifically in Youth2Work with the invaluable support of FIT, we aim to positively impact the lives of thousands of young people over the next three years helping to close the opportunity divide by giving them access to technology and skills which will help them get on the pathway to work.”
Commenting about the impact that Youth2Work will make Peter Davitt, CEO, FIT said: “Through Youth2Work, we are seeking to support all young people from the most challenged circumstances to the most capable by providing the opportunity for each one to take the next step toward a career. By doing that we want them to be inspired to develop their talent and follow their dream. FIT is proud to work with Microsoft to deliver what we expect to be a life changing programme for thousands of Ireland’s young people.”
Speaking at the launch Bernard Dunne, WBA Super Bantamweight World Champion and Youth2Work champion, said: “Helping to ensure that young people have the opportunity to achieve their potential is one of the things that I feel passionate about - whether that is in sport, in education or in professional life. Regardless of what you want to do or what kind of a job you ultimately end up in, having technology skills is essential. I am delighted that Microsoft and FIT have invited me to be the champion for Youth2Work. I believe it is going to make a serious difference to the lives of many young people.
“I also want to show how easy it is to learn more skills. To do this, I’m going to complete a mobile technology course over the next 16 weeks and plan to share my progress through blogs and twitter.” Details of Youth2Work can be found at: