Last month, I went up to Seattle to visit the Microsoft Campus and learn more about Youthspark, the company’s initiative to help the next generations become proficient in tech. It’s no secret that the world is changing rapidly, and being knowledgeable about technology is a crucial skill that every individual needs. It doesn’t matter whether you’re pursuing a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) field or not – just look around you and you’ll notice waiters taking your order on an iPad. Every single job utilizes technology now, and any young person who does not have access to learn these essential skills will be at a huge disadvantage.
This is where Microsoft Youthspark comes in. This large-scale initiative is dedicated to providing programs to address this lack of access to technology that so many young people face. The inspiration behind Youthspark was two-fold: It began as Microsoft encountered issues finding domestic talent in the industry due to lack of STEM education. During a roundtable discussion at Microsoft, we were told that 125,000 people are needed for tech jobs with only 43,000 graduating in the US with applicable majors every year. In order to have qualified persons for these and other jobs, STEM education needs to start much earlier than the college level; in addition, there are issues with lack of representation and access for women, people of color, disabled persons and those from rural areas. The Youthspark concept was born as a result of Microsoft’s focus on philanthropy and need for talent, as a way to start addressing some of these problems in order to create better opportunity for the next generation, regardless of what field they plan to work in.
In coming posts, I’ll be sharing details about some of the free outreach programs that Youthspark offer, which parents can start taking advantage of right away. Stay tuned to learn more about this very important issue!