New Microsoft Centre Opens in Brussels with Renewed Commitment to European Youth

Marking the first year of the company’s commitment to youth in Europe through YouthSpark, Microsoft today announced its continued partnership and financial support to three pan-European youth organisations—the European Youth Forum (YFJ), Telecentre Europe and Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise (JA-YE). Microsoft renewed its commitment to create additional 4,500 high-quality internships and apprenticeships in Europe by 2016 and announced the roll-out of several new youth initiatives in Europe, including a pilot Coding Camp and an Entrepreneurship and Leadership Camp. Overall, Microsoft committed to the provision of computer skills training as well as digital tools and resources to 46 million young people across Europe over the next two years, in addition to the 22.3 million reached this year.

For 2014 Microsoft has identified three priority areas for action to address youth unemployment in close alignment with EU public policy goals: promoting digital skills through early stage computer science in European education systems; supporting the crucial transition from school-to-work through quality internships and apprenticeships; and encouraging the integration of entrepreneurship skills in education.

Speaking at the official opening of the new Microsoft Centre in Brussels, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s General Counsel, said: “With nearly one in four young people jobless, addressing youth unemployment in Europe is a priority. As a global corporate citizen, it is incumbent upon us to contribute to solving this problem starting with what we know best: technology. We will start by creating pilot Coding and Entrepreneurship and Leadership Camps at the Microsoft Centre in Brussels to continue to equip young people with the skills they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive job market. It is crucial that we support a quality transition for youth into jobs that will in the long-term ensure wider economic success and support the next generation of Europeans.”

László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social affairs and Inclusion, added: “The Commission appreciates Microsoft’s active effort to provide young people with digital training and work experience that can help them get a foothold in the labour market. The EU has committed serious funding to make the Youth Guarantee a reality for every unemployed or discouraged young person, and it is good to see private companies contributing their own ideas and resources.”

In addition to existing programmes, these priorities will be supported by several new initiatives, including a pilot EU Coding Camp with European Schoolnet to launch in 2014 giving access to advanced digital training resources to teachers and students from across Europe. In addition, a pilot EU Entrepreneurship and Leadership Camp with Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise n 2014 will ensure that entrepreneurial skills and competences are embedded into the curriculum of a broader range of European students. These activities will feed into the third pan-European e-Skills campaign for 2014, coordinated by European Schoolnet and DIGITALEUROPE on behalf of the European Commission. Microsoft will also continue to deliver on its formal pledge to scale high-quality training schemes as part of the Grand Coalition on Digital Jobs, providing 4,500 additional high-quality internships and apprenticeships in Europe by 2016 on top of the existing 9,000 placements. Microsoft will also seek to encourage further industry engagement for the European Quality Charter on Internships and Apprenticeships as its first corporate signatory.

“In the face of ever greater uncertainty in the labour market, young Europeans need valuable learning experiences that provide a passport to future employment. The European Youth Forum is proud to have found a partner in Microsoft committed to improving the quality of European internships and increasing opportunities for youth in Europe,” said Giuseppe Porcaro, Secretary General of the European Youth Forum and one of Microsoft’s global YouthSpark Advisors.

The coding and entrepreneurship camps will be run in collaboration with the Microsoft Innovation Centre Brussels (MIC Brussels), a public-private partnership between Microsoft and the government of the Brussels-Capital region. The MIC Brussels is providing young local entrepreneurs with trainings to improve their technology and business skills and helping to stimulate the technology sector in the Brussels region and create ICT jobs. The official agreement renewing the partnership between Microsoft and the Brussels government for the MIC Brussels for three more years (2014 to 2017) was signed today by Céline Fremault, Minister of Economy of the Brussels-Capital Region, and Brad Smith.

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