From education to employment

Programme for Raising Skills Levels in Underserved Communities by Software Giants

Amongst the many issues facing the 21st Century at both the governmental and individual level is the rapid pace of change in technology, particularly in the field of IT skills.

Meeting this challenge requires an effort that goes beyond national borders. In keeping with their continued commitment to helping promote digital literacy and supporting programs that provide IT skills training and the benefits of technology, the software giant Microsoft Corp has announced a new range of measures targeting underserved communities in Europe as part of it 21st Century Skills for Employability initiative.

Microsoft Support Europe ““ Wide Forum

The new programme was made at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum (GLF) Europe 2006 held in Lisbon, Portugal. The keynote address was from Jean-Philippe Courtois, who is the president of Microsoft International. The GLF is a two-day event that aims to encourage cooperative approaches to issues of mutual concern and brings together more than 300 high-level government officials and business leaders from across Europe. With the aim of driving the discussions needed forward, the GLF tackles the issues raised by the new global economy.

The field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills training is key for addressing the issues of employability and job creation in a competitive and inclusive Europe. It is at the heart not only of Government policy domestically, therefore, but part of a larger scale thinking that transcends parochial conflicts. It is central to the European Commission (EC) report “Working Together for Growth and Jobs” and of equal relevance to the objectives recently discussed at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunisia.

Alliance for Skills

In the spirit of cooperation and in support of these goals, Microsoft, along with other members of the European e-Skills Certification Consortium (eSCC) including Cisco Systems Inc., The European Computer Driving Licence Foundation Ltd. (ECDL-F) and the Examination Institute for Information Science (EXIN), and with the support of State Street Corp. and Randstad Holding, announced the formation of the European Alliance on Skills for Employability.

The creation of this alliance is designed to help to bring together industry and community efforts to improve the employability prospects of young unemployed people, people with disabilities and older workers, thus widening participation whist simultaneously improving employment and employability prospects. The alliance will work towards providing technological access and ICT training to an impressive 20 million people in the course of the next five years.

Commissioner Speaks in Favour of Cooperation

“The most important phase of the European Union’s growth and jobs strategy is underway, and the spotlight is firmly on delivering results. Partnerships between the Member States and the private sector can also make a major contribution to Europe’s competitiveness as a region and for its citizens,” said Vladimir Spidla, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities.

“I welcome the creation of the European Alliance on Skills for Employability. The alliance is a leading example of how innovative business-to-business collaborations, working with different stakeholders, can provide opportunities to the European unemployed,” he continued. “Access to skills training, content provision and certification can help older workers, people with disabilities and the young to face the challenges of unemployment and the changing workplace, and so contribute to Europe’s prosperity. I commend this initiative as it represents one of the best practices in this field.”

Jethro Marsh

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