Jan. 31, 2006 — Today as part of its continued commitment to helping promote digital literacy and supporting programs that provide IT skills training and the benefits of technology, Microsoft Corp. announced new offerings for underserved communities in Europe as part of it 21st Century Skills for Employability initiative. The announcements were made during the keynote address by Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International, at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum (GLF) Europe 2006 in Lisbon, Portugal. The GLF is a two-day event that brings together more than 300 high-level government officials and business leaders from across Europe with the goal of driving discussion about the opportunities and challenges that leaders face in the new global economy.
Information and communication technology (ICT) skills training is a key vehicle for employability and job creation in a competitive and inclusive Europe. It is at the heart of the goals of the European Commission (EC) report “Working Together for Growth and Jobs” and of the objectives recently discussed at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunisia. 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 nv, announced the formation of the European Alliance on Skills for Employability. The alliance is being created to help better coordinate industry and community efforts to improve the employability prospects of young unemployed people, people with disabilities and older workers. The alliance will work to provide technology access and ICT training to 20 million people in the next five years.
Feb. 1, 2006 — Today, as part of his keynote address at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum (GLF) Europe 2006, Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates announced the company will expand its funding and support for its Unlimited Potential (UP) program by $25.2 million (U.S.) to a total of more than $152 million in cash and software for community technology centers (CTCs). CTCs provide basic technology skills and job training in underserved communities around the globe, and the latest round of Microsoft® UP grants will support 126 nonprofit organizations that are expanding existing programs or opening new CTCs in 64 countries, bringing the number of centers to 36,000 and the estimated number of people who can benefit from the centers to more than 15 million.
“Access to training and technology skills is a key success factor in creating employment opportunities in underserved communities,” Gates said. “Europe’s unemployed are a major concern of governments we are working with, and our Unlimited Potential grants are supporting innovative partnerships that bring new skills to those who need them.”
Through the UP program, Microsoft is working to help a quarter-billion people around the world gain access to the technology, learning curriculum and skills training necessary to support employability and foster economic development in communities where they live.
There’s also a press release detailing the benefits provided by Unlimited Potential grants in the town of Zambrow, Poland. Previous announcements at the Lisbon conference are here and here.