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Microsoft Canada creates YouthSpark

New program aimed at improving literacy rates in Canada

Microsoft launched a program that is committed to creating opportunities for 300 million youth around the globe over the next three years called YouthSpark.

According to a Microsoft Canada spokesperson, youth unemployment is double that of the adult population leading to a growing gap between the skills of unemployed workers and the skills needed to perform the jobs of today and tomorrow.

In Canada, youth unemployment is twice as high as the country’s overall jobless rate. The Canadian Literacy and Learning Network reported that almost half (48 per cent) of all Canadians have low literacy skills. With more than 80 per cent of those with the lowest literacy rates being unemployed.

YouthSpark is meant to address this issue. Microsoft will partner with governments, non-profit organizations, and businesses to empower for the YouthSpark initiative.

The YouthSpark program has already helped Frontier College. Founded in 1899, the Toronto-based national literacy organization received a $175,000 grant to support its Virtual Learning Portal (VLP), an online training resource. VLP is intended to reach isolated, remote or immobile people and encourage them to meet online with a literacy tutor and receive the same level of support as their peers.

Microsoft Canada said that only a one per cent increase in the literacy rate would boost the economy by $18 billion in economic growth every year.