Microsoft YouthSpark marks two successful years

Despite pockets of recovery in the global economy, worldwide unemployment continues to rise, particularly among youth between the ages of 15 and 24.

This is a challenge in the UK as much as it is anywhere else. The latest ONS Labour Market Statistics revealed that there are 955,000 16-24 year olds Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) in the UK. Whilst this figure has been dropping, tackling youth unemployment must remain a commitment for the government and for businesses alike. That’s why we launched our global Microsoft YouthSpark initiative in 2012, which creates education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young people across the globe.

The opportunities we have created in the UK are vast and varied, but they have all helped young people to gain new skills, become inspired and often find jobs or embark upon their own business ventures. And these opportunities all have one thing in common: technology.

In the UK, we are particularly proud of the work we have been doing in schools. We’re really excited that this September, for the first time ever, Computing has become compulsory part of the national curriculum for children from the age of five. It is so important that we inspire people from a young age about technology but there was a clear gap in helping to support teachers get to grips with the new Computing curriculum. Backed by a £334,000 investment from Microsoft, earlier this year, we announced a partnership with CAS to hold a series of ‘Back to School’ training sessions to show teachers how they can take the complexity of Coding and Computer Science and make it engaging to the touch screen generation. We are taking this further, with the development of a package of comprehensive training materials and online lesson plans, for both primary and secondary school, to help make this a success.

We also held our second Kodu Kup competition this year which is open to primary and secondary schools across the country challenging them to develop their own computer games, using Kodu, a visual language designed specifically by Microsoft. The winners of this year’s UK competition are lucky enough to be heading to the first ever Kodu Kup Europe in Brussels, to compete with children from across Europe which is a testament to the excitement and momentum behind coding.

This years winners of the UK Kodu Kup competition
This years winners of the UK Kodu Kup competition

September 09, 2014


Outside of school, we are also continuing our efforts to up-skill and help young people enter the world of work. The Microsoft apprenticeship programme delivered through our partner businesses is part of our commitment to providing the relevant training and skills to young people, and to help build the talent pipeline for the IT industry in the UK. With 93% of Microsoft apprentices staying with partner businesses and moving into fully qualified roles, there are real tangible benefits of apprenticeships to help get young people firmly on the career ladder.

It is no secret that technology knowledge and skills – basic, intermediate, or advanced – are required for the vast majority of jobs today. We must continue to build on the success of YouthSpark to date in order to help more young people to get inspired and build skills that will help them to build their own future.

For more information, please visit the Microsoft YouthSpark Hub