Microsoft YouthSpark, a vital catalyst for driving the nation’s push towards an innovation economy, spearheaded by young entrepreneurs

Today, in Kuala Lumpur, at the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Microsoft Malaysia and the Ministry of Youth and Sports today announced an intent to partner through Microsoft YouthSpark to address the opportunity divide facing young people in Malaysia – a gap between those who have the access, skills and opportunities to be successful and those who do not.

This partnership will be part of Microsoft’s global YouthSpark initiative, which aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth around the world over three years through partnerships with governments, nonprofit organizations and businesses.

YB Khairy Jamaluddin, Youth and Sports Minister, Malaysia and Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director, Citizenship and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft Corp

“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 Carlos Lacerda, Managing Director of Microsoft Malaysia.

Microsoft Malaysia 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. From this bright young ground they will search for local YouthSpark Stars who will be recognized at the next National Youth Day in May 2014.

The YouthSpark stars will then receive additional support and mentoring to 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.

Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister of Youth and Sports Malaysia, echoed Lacerda’s statement, “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 achieve the nation’s aspirations of a high-income, knowledge-based economy by 2020.”

Globally, Microsoft YouthSpark celebrated its first anniversary in September announcing 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 Mohamad Najib Tun Razak at the Microsoft YouthSpark booth at the event, Akhtar Badshah, Microsoft Corporation’s Senior Director of Citizenship and Public Affairs reemphasized the commitment of Microsoft to Malaysian youth.

Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, Finance Minister II - Najib Razak, Prime Minister Malaysia - Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director, Citizenship and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft Corp

“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; and
  3. Helping youth realize new opportunities of employability and entrepreneurship.

“Microsoft YouthSpark goes beyond just philanthropy. It brings together global Microsoft programs 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,” added Badshah.

“For over 20 years here in Malaysia, Microsoft has continuously created opportunities for youth to take the lead in changing their lives and making a real impact in their local communities through initiatives in entrepreneurship and education. This has been our ongoing commitment in transforming Malaysia together. With programs such as YouthSpark, we are encouraging innovation and creativity among young, talented entrepreneurs and start-ups. We are committed to supporting the Government’s efforts in building knowledge and innovation-based human capital, and our presence at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2013 is evidence of that support,” said Lacerda.

A year ago, Microsoft announced its collaboration with the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), on a partnership entitled “The Spark of Transformation”. Three components are covered under this partnership, each designed to be part of what is hoped will be a robust education system that is essential to develop a knowledge-driven workforce. This would entail working from the ground up on incorporating IT into the school education system, curriculum revision, teacher training and investing in building out the infrastructure.

For more information on Microsoft YouthSpark please click here.

Join in the conversation! Follow Microsoft Malaysia on Twitter @MYMicrosoft and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MicrosoftMalaysia.