Posted by Fred Humphries
Vice President, U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft

Fred Humphries
Fred Humphries

As our country continues to rebound from the global economic crisis, more and more attention is being paid to our future – and in particular the future of the next generation. Will they have the tools and resources they need to succeed in a 21st century economy?

The challenges facing youth vary from community to community, but a fundamental challenge is emerging across the world. While some young people are thriving and succeeding in the classroom and out, others are struggling because they lack the education, skills or opportunities they need to succeed.

On March 27, Microsoft, in partnership with The Atlantic, will host a live digital town hall discussion with influential thought leaders on how we can address this opportunity divide to ensure that today’s generation can compete in tomorrow’s world.

Currently, more than 100 million youth worldwide lack access to any sort of education, and more than 75 million young people are unemployed. More than ever, students need access to the tools and skills that will help them compete in a world driven by rapidly changing technology. And while some students thrive, others are left behind because they may not have access to the best opportunities available. To better equip the doctors, teachers, engineers and entrepreneurs of the future, we need programs that make education more accessible and empower all young people to realize their potential.

Microsoft addresses these challenges through a variety of programs geared toward preparing young people for the future. For example, last year we trained more than 360,000 students worldwide in technology and job skills through Microsoft Students to Business, which connects students with Microsoft partner companies. Microsoft also provides IT training through our Partners in Learning program. Since 2003, we have reached nearly 210 million students and teachers in 114 countries and regions. By 2013, we plan to have invested $500 million in the program, and to have reached 250 million students.

While we have made great strides in trying to bridge the opportunity gap, young people today face more obstacles than ever before when it comes to entering the job market. Finding a solution will require a collective effort by governments, businesses and the non-profit community.

To find out more about how policy leaders are working to improve economic opportunities for tomorrow’s workforce, tune into Jobs & Economy of the Future: Educating the Next Generation to Compete at 8:15 a.m. ET on Tuesday, March 27.

Guests will include Secretary Arne Duncan, U.S. Department of Education; Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN); Michael Greenstone, Director, The Hamilton Project; Kaya Henderson, Chancellor, Washington, D.C. Public Schools; Robert Mendenhall, President, Western Governors University; and Amy Rosen, President and CEO, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.