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Malaysian ministry, Microsoft to shrink 'opportunity divide' among youth

AvantiKumar | Oct. 16, 2013
Malaysia's Ministry of Youth and Sports and Microsoft to work through Microsoft YouthSpark programme, said Microsoft's Carlos Lacerda.

Akhtar Badshah with Malaysian PM Dato Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak 

Photo  - Akhtar Badshah (second from left), Senior Director of Citizenship and Publics Affairs, Microsoft Corporation in discussion with the Malaysian Prime Minister YAB Dato' Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak at the Microsoft YouthSpark booth - 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.


During the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit , held for the first time in Kuala Lumpur, technology solutions firm Microsoft and the Malaysian youth and sports ministry said they intend to partner through the Microsoft YouthSpark programme to help close the opportunity divide among the country's youth.

Microsoft Malaysia managing director Carlos Lacerda said the gap "between those who have the access, skills, and opportunities to be successful and those who do not" would be addressed through partnerships with governments, nonprofit organizations and businesses.
"The launch of this partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports reflects our commitment to supporting and nurturing youth with innovative technology and with the goal of empowering them to realize their full potential through opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship," said Lacerda.

He said Microsoft and the Ministry of Youth and Sports will kick off their local partnership by providing training, mentoring and networking opportunities for Malaysian youth creating a local alumni of Malaysia's brightest young talent and moving on to recognise promising YouthSpark Stars at the next National Youth Day in May 2014.

More support and mentoring will then be given to these YouthSpark Stars to help them achieve their ambitions ahead of the ASEAN Youth Day in 2015 where it is hoped they will be able to present their stories to the broader region.

Minister of Youth and Sports Malaysia Khairy Jamaluddin said: "The Government is committed to supporting young people to gain the skills required for success in the 21st century. We have a responsibility of nurturing and training young people but this role is not exclusively the Government's but is also a shared responsibility with the private sector and other key stakeholders."

"We are glad that Microsoft has been supporting youth with initiatives like YouthSpark, to enhance the development of employment, entrepreneurial and IT skills through training opportunities and mentoring programs. YouthSpark supports the Government's push towards an innovation economy, with young people driving efforts to achieving the nation's aspirations of a high-income, knowledge-based economy by 2020," said Khairy.

GES was launched in 2009 and was the brainchild of the President of United States Barack Obama to provide a global platform to empower entrepreneurs with the skills and resources necessary to compete and thrive in the 21st century.

 New opportunities for 103 million youths

Microsoft's Lacerda said the Microsoft YouthSpark programme celebrated its first anniversary in September announcing that new opportunities had been created for 103 million young people in more than 100 countries in the first year.

As part of the announcement five global YouthSpark Stars were showcased including Malaysian youth John-son Oei for his innovative work using technology to bring housing to people from the Orang Asli, Malaysia's indigenous community. 

"This recognition of one of our young people is testament to the strength of our local talent and why we want to uncover and nurture even more Malaysian YouthSpark stars in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports," said Lacerda.

After discussion with the Malaysian prime minister YAB Dato' Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak at the Microsoft YouthSpark booth at the event, Akhtar Badshah, Microsoft Corporation's senior director of citizenship and public affairs, said, "This partnership is very important to us, Malaysia is not alone in identifying a growing gap between the skills of unemployed workers and the skills needed to perform the jobs of today and tomorrow. Beyond the overall risk to economic growth, this is a growing personal crisis for our young people who face an increasingly uncertain future.  Closing this opportunity divide is one of the most important actions we can all take - together - to secure the future of our youth and as a result, the future of our global economy," Badshah said.

Microsoft YouthSpark is focused on three core areas:
1. Empowering youth by helping transform education and expand digital inclusion;
2. Unleashing future innovators by giving youth the inspiration and tools to imagine new opportunities;
3. Helping youth realise new opportunities of employability and entrepreneurship.

"Microsoft YouthSpark goes beyond just philanthropy. It brings together global Microsoft programmes including Imagine Cup, Innovate for Good, Skype in the Classroom, BizSpark, Office365 for EDU, DreamSpark and Partners in Learning. We know we can have the biggest impact when we bring our solutions, services and partnerships together to provide young people with access to technology and education, inspire them with opportunities to realize their potential, and help them find a job or start their own business," said Badshah.


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