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Spotlight on the Opportunity Divide for Youth

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Earlier today, Microsoft announced a commissioned report from the International Youth Foundation, Opportunity for Action, which documents the growing economic and social challenges facing youth around the world and the urgent need to provide the education, skills and employment opportunities required for them to succeed in today’s rapidly changing global economy.

At a time when we have more young people – 1.2 billion – than at any time in the planet’s history, there’s an urgent need to provide them with the education, skills and employment opportunities they need to succeed in today’s rapidly changing global economy.

The Opportunity for Action report documents the nearly 75 million young people, globally, who are unemployed and the varying causes for rising youth unemployment in different parts of the world. As the report shows, currently only 44 percent of youth worldwide pursue education as far as the equivalent of the high school level in the United States, and even fewer complete secondary education. This is especially concerning given the increase in jobs globally requiring higher levels of skill and education. In the United States, for example, it is estimated that by 2018, 62 percent of the workforce will require some college education, yet today 16 percent of American youth ages 18-24 fail even to complete high school.

Microsoft is working with governments, nonprofits, industry colleagues, educators and youth themselves to close the opportunity divide. A first step is shining a light on the problem through the IYF report and learning more directly from young people — through a series of upcoming conferences and events in different regions of the world — about the best ways to help. The company is incorporating the insights gained from these discussions into its work to develop new plans to improve youth access to education, skills training, and communities where they can create and seize real-world opportunities.

Locally, Microsoft invests in programs that offer youth with opportunities to gain exposure to the technology industry. Each summer we offer our High School Internship Program which encourages applications from minorities, young women, individuals with disabilities, and students from economically disadvantaged families. In addition, our annual DigiGirlz Program offers hundreds of local female high school students an insider view into what a career in technology is all about. Working closely with partners such as Citizen Schools, the Boys & Girls Club, and others we offer STEM focused programs to help young people succeed.

More information about Microsoft’s commitment to helping create more opportunity for youth can be found at Microsoft.com/citizenship. The full Opportunity for Action report can be found here.

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