Young people in New Zealand will soon have a new place to hone their IT skills and job prospects.

Microsoft New Zealand Managing Director, Paul Muckleston, announced that as part of Microsoft’s global YouthSpark program the company is donating NZ$1M in cash, software and services investment to the High Tech Youth Network to provide pathways for young, underserved Kiwis into the IT industry. He made the announcement at One Tree Hill College in Penrose, where Prime Minister John Key joined with students and the CEO of the High Tech Youth Network for the official ground-breaking at the school.

Through the Network, young people aged 8 – 25 years in underserved communities receive NCEA and industry related secondary and tertiary credentialing, workplace internships and mentoring in the High-Tech and Digital Media industries. At the studios, participants learn project management and technical skills such as computer game design, electronic publishing, Photoshop, animation and 3D graphic design.

The $1M grant – made under Microsoft’s global YouthSpark programme – includes a commitment of investment to these programs.

The government’s 2013 Budget also provided $1.9M to enable the Network to develop two new studios – including the One Tree Hill College site – and to continue to support young people enrolled at existing studios.

Muckleston said, “Through our partnership with the High Tech Youth Network, we hope to inspire young New Zealanders to imagine and build a better future for themselves – all while building a skilled and innovative workforce in New Zealand that is equipped to prosper in the global economy."

Mike Usmar, CEO of the Network, expressed his deep gratitude for the new grant of support which he says will enable them to expand its reach further than ever before, positioning the organization to serve more than 37,000 youth and whanau in the Oceania region towards developing IT skills that will impact them for a lifetime.

For more information on the High Tech Youth Network, visit: http://hightechyouth.org/