Microsoft helps to create opportunities for young jobseekers

Microsoft today launched the second phase of Britain Works, its three-year plan to get half a million people into employment by 2012.

In the past year Microsoft says that 104,000 people were helped into jobs by the programme, and in the next 12 months it aims to give 100,000 young people aged 16 to 24 the opportunity to kick-start their careers.

New opportunities will be created through a combination of work experience placements run by Microsoft, its partners and its customers, alongside 450,000 training vouchers and 3,000 new IT apprenticeships over the three-year programme. The campaign also includes a partnership with LinkedIn where free advice and mentoring opportunities can be accessed by people taking part.

Gordon Frazer, managing director of Microsoft UK, said: “Youth unemployment and a lack of social mobility are just two of the issues facing our society as we seek to emerge from the shadow of recession. Britain’s young people are some of the hardest hit and we want to do our part, working closely with the Government and our partners in giving them the opportunity to build their careers regardless of their background. This year we are adding to our programme and asking other businesses to make a commitment to help the most disadvantaged by offering new work experience places to the people who need them most.”

As part of the campaign, Microsoft has tripled its work placement programme from 50 to 150 new placements, designed to provide young people with the skills they need to increase their employment prospects. Microsoft is also encouraging partner businesses across the UK, including 30,000 IT companies, to join the initiative and also offer apprenticeships and work placements.

Stephen Uden, head of skills and economic affairs at Microsoft, said: “We have a number of partners and organisations that we work alongside, and we will achieve this if we work collectively. By working with Remploy, for example, we can ensure that this programme targets those who need it most and we can also scale it up and do more. The more we can do, the better.”

Alongside NGOs including Remploy, Leonard Cheshire, the Wise Group and UK online centres, Sky has joined the Britain Works programme and will be offering work experience opportunities to individuals. Microsoft will also provide a good work experience guide for organisations considering joining the campaign who have not run structured work experience schemes before.

Commenting on the programme, skills minister John Hayes said: “Work-based learning and training is vitally important in ensuring that we achieve a highly skilled and competent workforce. Microsoft’s Britain Works campaign should be commended for its commitment to young people, offering them the opportunity to experience the world of work and gain useful skills at a business as world-renowned as Microsoft.

“This Government believes that apprenticeships are a key component to up-skilling the workforce and are one of the best forms of work-based learning. They have proven benefits to both learners and their employers, and are key to securing this country’s growth and success.”

Find out more at the Britain Works website or call the helpline on 0800 111 4341.

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