Microsoft partners up to spark success for European youth

We are excited to announce that we are renewing our existing partnerships with two pan-European youth organizations: JA Europe, Europe’s largest provider of entrepreneurship education programs, and Telecentre Europe, which represents public centers providing ICT training, certification and employment opportunities. In addition, we are embarking on a new partnership with CoderDojo, the global network of free, volunteer-led, community-based programming clubs for young people.

This engagement is part of Microsoft YouthSpark, our global, company-wide initiative, which aims to improve education, employability and entrepreneurship opportunities for young people worldwide. So far, YouthSpark has created opportunities for 227 million youth, including 40.8 million young people across Europe, through a palette of education, job-readiness and entrepreneurship programs.

All three of these organizations are helping to tackle the challenges facing Europe’s youth, by equipping them with the skills they need to succeed in Europe’s digital economy. As part of its plans for a Digital Single Market in Europe, the European Commission has rightly identified eSkills as the key to unlocking Europe’s digital transformation and has called for continued cooperation between governments, NGOs, industry, and educators to make this happen.

Microsoft is a long-standing supporter of the eSkills for Jobs campaign, as well as the EU’s Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs – a partnership encouraging collaboration between public and private actors to attract young people into ICT education. We believe that providing Europe’s youth with digital training is essential to helping them shape their own success stories.

Our partnerships with JA Europe, Telecentre Europe and CoderDojo reflect this ambition. Since 2013, we have worked with JA Europe to provide young people with entrepreneurship and digital competence training, seeking to bridge the education-to-work gap through summer camps enabling tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and initiatives such as the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass. This year, Microsoft will work with JA Europe on initiatives such as Leaders-for-a-Day, designed to strengthen the relationship between business and education. We will be additionally supporting The European Entrepreneurship Education NETwork (EE-HUB), which will focus on stimulating further developments and making policy recommendations to help increase the uptake of entrepreneurship education across Europe.

Meanwhile, our work with Telecentre has focused on empowering underprivileged Europeans through digital skills training and certification. We will build on this in 2015 through CodeYourFuture, a campaign highlighting the importance of computer science skills in today’s labor market and ensuring whole communities can harness digital opportunities.

It is vital that all young Europeans have the chance to grow their digital competence, whether in or outside of the classroom. That is why we at Microsoft are delighted to be entering into a new partnership with CoderDojo, the global network of programming clubs. We share a common vision of a future in which young people can create their own opportunities for success through computer science, and our partnership will focus on scaling and supporting CoderDojo’s efforts to help as many young Europeans as possible discover their digital potential. We will also be working together around key events such as CoderDojo’s Coolest Project Awards and EU Code Week’s EU Dojo, which brings kids from across Europe to Brussels, to show MEPs how to code. For more information on how CoderDojo is empowering a whole new generation of digital natives, read our interview with Mary Moloney, Global CEO of the CoderDojo Foundation, at the Microsoft News Centre Europe.


Sylvie Laffarge
Director Philanthropies Europe

Sylvie Laffarge is Director of Philanthropies Europe. She joined Microsoft in 2006 and currently leads Microsoft's YouthSpark and Technology for Good efforts across Europe, driving alignment with European public policy priorities around issues related to youth, employment, digital skills, entrepreneurship, and CSR. Launched in 2012, Microsoft YouthSpark is a global, company-wide initiative designed to create opportunities for three hundred million youth around the world. Through partnerships with governments, nonprofits and businesses, its aim is to empower youth to imagine and realize their full potential by connecting them with greater education, employment, and entrepreneurship opportunities. Sylvie previously held leadership and external representation roles in numerous CSR, ICT policy and trade associations and non-profits in Brussels, on the subject of youth employment, ICT and skills. Prior to joining Microsoft she led the corporate community relations office for The Walt Disney Company. She pioneered Disney's community affairs strategy in Europe and was instrumental during her 17 year tenure in developing the company's strong socially responsible profile. Sylvie Laffarge brought relevance to Disney's donation portfolio and initiated signature programs such as Disney's Compassionate Program, Disney VoluntEARS and the DisneyHand effort in Europe. Sylvie Laffarge is a graduate and post-graduate of the University of La Sorbonne in Paris.