Posted by Dorothy DwoskinSenior Director of Global Trade Policy and Strategy
The United States and South Korea are, once again, focused on realizing the benefits of enhanced trade and investment opportunities between our two countries. This is great news!
President Obama and South Korea’s President Lee agreed, on the margins of the G-20 Summit, to put the US- Korea FTA (Free Trade Agreement) (also known as “KORUS”) on a path towards approval. Trade Ministers are now working to meet the deadline of resolving outstanding issues by the time President Obama visits Seoul in November. As President Obama said, “It is the right thing to do for our country. It is the right thing to do for Korea. It will strengthen our commercial ties and create enormous potential economic benefits and create jobs here in the United States, which is my number one priority.” In Korea, there is a similarly strong sentiment about the importance of KORUS for the Korean economy.
Posted by Lauren WoodmanGeneral Manager of Government and Education Programs, Worldwide Public Sector
This week Microsoft is hosting the Education Leaders Forum in Warsaw, Poland in conjunction with the 2010 Imagine Cup World Finals. Great event – great to bring together education leaders to talk about the role that education plays in building economic competitiveness, and particularly interesting to do so against the backdrop of the Imagine Cup Finals where so many great examples of innovation and the new perspective that students can bring to the world are being celebrated.
While we are inspired by the student projects at Imagine Cup, we can use that inspiration to spark discussion on serious issues with education leaders from all over the world. Nurturing a competitive economy is a challenge that all governments face, and we believe that a combination of information communication technology (ICT) and targeted policy focus will create the best possible environment for education to thrive and improve a country’s economic competitiveness. This morning we all had a chance to hear from President of Microsoft International, Jean-Philippe Courtois about what he believes ICT can do to help people and organizations around the world reach their full potential. One thing that really resonated with me as I think of my work with schools and teachers all over the world as part of Microsoft Partners in Learning is the fact that, in 5 years, more than 90% of all jobs will require ICT skills of some kind. This means that ICT education cannot be just for the traditional Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Design students any more, but for ALL students as they prepare for new careers. You can read a summary of Jean-Philippe’s comments and all of the keynotes from the event at www.ELF2010.org.
Creating the right environment in which innovation and economic growth can occur is challenging and requires that policymakers look broadly at business, research, and workforce development areas. Many times, these discussions are appropriately focused on how to train young people through university or vocational education for productive careers. This is why we are so excited to hear that both in Europe & North America, some of our Microsoft technical certifications are being accredited to count for college credit by HETAC in Ireland and ACE in the US & Canada, as well as the new global availability of some of our most popular stepping stones to these courses, the Microsoft Technology Associate program.
This is important work and cannot be overlooked. But we must also not forget the critically important role of primary and secondary education in laying the best foundation for future success. In my work, I have the privilege of working with teachers from around the world who recognize that their young students need more than just a solid foundation in reading, writing and arithmetic to be prepared for tomorrow. They need new skills, like critical thinking, problem-solving, and the ability to work collaboratively, for example, to be ready for both the workplace and university.
Posted by Owen Linderholm Director, Microsoft on the Issues
Our colleagues in Africa have launched an interesting new blog for discussion of social and economic development on that continent, which is advancing rapidly in its use of and contributions to information and communications technology.
Having opened our first office in Africa in 1992, Microsoft now has more than 600 full-time staff and 17,000 partners there, working to innovate, expand access to technology, strengthen economies and address societal challenges. For a fresh perspective on the issues facing Africa and the world, check out Microsoft on the Issues Africa.