“Are Nigeria graduates employable?” This question was asked when Microsoft launched the YouthSpark initiative to Nigeria Youth Service Corp (NYSC) members in Iyana Ipaja area of Lagos, Nigeria on Saturday, 16th of March, 2013.
Microsoft YouthSpark is a global initiative that aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth in more than 100 countries over the next three years. This company-wide initiative includes Corporate Social Investment (CSI) and other company programs — both new and enhanced — empowering youth to imagine and realize their full potential by connecting them with greater opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship.
Through this, and as part of the commitments announced earlier this year through the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, Microsoft is creating a platform for youth to learn leadership and life skills that aim to address youth unemployment caused by lack of skills, a key factor hindering economic growth in Africa. This effort is put together by Microsoft Nigeria in partnership with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), the largest gathering of youth in Nigeria; Mind the Gap, a job creation, employability and social entrepreneurship incubation program; and Future Enterprise Support Scheme, an online community where young people can share knowledge, ideas, tips and resources.
YouthSpark is closely aligned to the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, a new investment aimed at helping Africa improve its global competitiveness, which was announced in Lagos in February 2013. By 2016, the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative plans to help place tens of millions of smart devices in the hands of African youth, bring one million African small and medium enterprises online, up-skill 100,000 members of Africa’s existing workforce, and help an additional 100,000 recent graduates develop skills for employability – 75 percent of which Microsoft will help place in jobs. This new commitment through YouthSpark in Nigeria will contribute significantly toward delivering on these goals.
Other YouthSpark programs, all of which are available today in Nigeria, include: Partners Network, Academy, DreamSpark, Imagine Cup, and BizSpark. A full list of Microsoft YouthSpark programs can be found at the YouthSpark Hub.