Microsoft Corporation India Pvt Ltd gave the first glimpse into the potential impact of their global initiative in India known as, Microsoft YouthSpark. They announced the award of cash grants worth 350,000 USD for Indian NGOs for the year 2012-13. Two local NGO’s, Aide ét Action and Aga Khan Rural Support Program, in support of their work with youth were allocated 250,000 USD for the year. Over the next three years, this initiative aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth in more than 100 countries.Included in this announcement was the launch of the first YouthSpark centre in Delhi. This is the first of 10 centres across the country that plans to work with underprivileged youth aged 16 to 24, providing training of basic IT skills, spoken English, personality development and job preparedness. The centres will focus on one trade led enterprise – such as IT-enabled services, retail, hospitality, automobiles etc. – and from each group of students, a few will be handpicked, trained in a simulated set-up, and encouraged to start their own group enterprises. Utilizing the partnership with Aide ét Action, the first grant installment that was announced today, has a goal to train 80,000 youth over the next three years. 65,000 of these youth will be helped to find employment, and 15,000 aided in starting their own enterprises.
YouthSpark was launched in response to research showing that the world’s youth faces a new divide – an opportunity divide, which will significantly impact their livelihoods. The International Youth Foundation Opportunity for Action report, published in March 2012, showed that nearly 75 million young people worldwide were unemployed in 2011, with 9.9 percent in South Asia. The report documents that about 20 percent of India’s population, or about 240 million people, are youth aged 15 to 24 with data from the Labour Bureau of India identifying unemployment rates in India at 3.8 percent.
Building on the company’s current philanthropy programs, YouthSpark will help empower youth to imagine and realize their full potential by introducing them to greater opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship by:
- Inspiring youth by helping strengthen their education and expand digital inclusion;
- Mentoring future innovators by giving youth the inspiration and tools to imagine new opportunities; and
- Supporting youth explore new opportunities of employability and entrepreneurship.
The three core objectives that we have identified will be powered through a number of directed through programs focused on partnerships with governments, non-profit organizations, and businesses aimed at empowering and supporting youth to imagine and realize their full potential.
Jean-Philippe Courtois, President, Microsoft International, will be speaking at the first YouthSpark centre, hosted in partnership with NGO Aide ét Action in New Delhi. Courtois states, “I am very proud to be part of the launch of this first Microsoft YouthSpark Center right here in Delhi. I am even more pleased that this is the first of 10 such centers we plan across this great country over the next 18 months as we continue to find new ways to help empower our youth to change their world: to be the spark of change. We expect this YouthSpark center will allow 80,000 youth to be trained over three years – of which we expect 65,000 to find employment through placement drives and alliances with potential employers – and 15,000 to start their own enterprises. This is the core goal of YouthSpark: helping youth access a wide range of Microsoft programs with the common goal of supporting and serving young people in their quest for opportunity”.
YouthSpark is based upon the well-established programs including: Project Shiksha,Project Jyoti, BizSpark, Imagine Cup and DreamSpark, which together have inspired millions of Indians over eight years. Through Microsoft YouthSpark, the company will devote its efforts and a majority of its cash contributions to create opportunities for young people.
“With the Government of India setting the target of skilling 500 million people by the year 2022, nurturing employability and the spirit of entrepreneurship amongst youth has never been more imperative” said Sanket Akerkar, Managing Director, Microsoft Corporation India Pvt Ltd. “Taking a cue from India’s proposed 12th Five Year Plan that sees education ‘as the single most important instrument of social and economic transformation1 ’, we are trying create effective mechanisms to support organizations that help in skill-building and empower future communities.”
More information about YouthSpark can be found on Microsoft YouthSpark Hub, an online space where people can explore and access all of the youth services, programs and resources provided by Microsoft and its non-profit partners.
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