Microsoft New Zealand is donating $1 million in cash, software and services investment to the High Tech Youth Network, designed to provide pathways for young, underserved Kiwis into the IT industry.
Speaking today at One Tree Hill College in Penrose, Microsoft NZ Managing Director, Paul Muckleston made the announcement in front of Prime Minister John Key, who joined students and the CEO of the High Tech Youth Network for the official ground-breaking for the construction of a new High Tech Youth Studio and Academy.
The One Tree Hill College Academy is the latest site set for development by the High Tech Youth Network to offer vocational and education pathways for students into high-performance digital learning and training.
There are currently six High Tech Youth Studios, located in West Auckland, Manukau City, Hamilton, Tauranga, Moerewa (Northland) and Whakatane. Sites in Dunedin, Fiji and Hawaii are also currently in development.
The studios target young people aged 8 – 25 years in underserved communities, providing NCEA and industry related secondary and tertiary credentialing, as well as workplace internships and mentoring of young people in the High-Tech and Digital Media industries.
At the studios, young people learn project management and technical skills such as computer game design, electronic publishing, Photoshop, animation and 3D graphic design.
Muckleston believes that initiatives like the High Tech Youth Network will help secure the future of young New Zealanders with pathways into the tech sector.
“The High Tech Youth Network has paved the way to address the technology capability gap," he says.
"This is why Microsoft is an enthusiastic long term supporter of the High Tech Youth Network, because our goals closely align.
"We want to empower young people and communities to help bridge the technology gap to ensure equity of access, skills, and opportunities for all New Zealanders.”
Muckleston says Microsoft’s investment in the High Tech Youth Network is part of a wider commitment to building a smart, connected, competitive New Zealand, in which all New Zealanders have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
“Through our partnership with the High Tech Youth Network, we hope to inspire young New Zealanders to imagine and build a better future for themselves – all while building a skilled and innovative workforce in New Zealand that is equipped to prosper in the global economy," he adds.
Muckleston says the million-dollar grant – made under Microsoft’s global YouthSpark programme – includes a commitment of investment to providing ICT industry credentialing opportunities, industry mentors and 4 -10 week work placements through High Tech Youth Academies for young people aged 16-24 years.
“The High Tech Youth Network answers the calls of politicians and business leaders for educators and industry to work together to provide tangible pathways for young New Zealanders into long-term careers through training, mentoring and internships," he adds.
"It is education aligned to workplace requirements and job opportunities."
Muckleston, together with the Prime Minister and Ken Whitney, ASB Community Trust’s Chair, jointly launched the network’s Academy program in late 2012, with initial investment from Microsoft and ASB Community Trust.
The government’s 2013 Budget also provided $1.9M to enable the High Tech Youth Network to develop two new studios – including the One Tree Hill College site – and to continue to support young people enrolled at existing studios.
Mike Usmar, CEO of the High Tech Youth Network, expressed his deep gratitude for the new grant of support which he says will enable the Network to expand its reach further than ever before.
“With Microsoft working alongside us as our most valued partner, the future for the High Tech Youth Network is strong, and will be positioned to serve more than 37,000 youth and whanau in the Oceania region towards developing IT skills that will impact them for a lifetime," he adds.
The High Tech Youth Network has four core objectives, these are:
- To empower young people and communities to become more capable, creative and confident lifelong learners.
- To foster the growth of a learning community, through the sharing of ideas and support.
- To encourage in young people the development of a positive identity and belief in their potential, through linking cultural knowledge and values with technology.
- To champion, support, manage, research and implement services and projects that will further the above objectives within New Zealand and the Pacific.
For more information on the High Tech Youth Network, visit: http://hightechyouth.org/