Taipei Times (TT): Microsoft last year initiated an online program called YouthSpark that has helped more than 100 million youths globally find jobs over the past 12 months. How did it happen?
Akhtar Badshah: As a tech company, Microsoft last year launched the campaign YouthSpark to encourage youths, especially those unemployed, to search for opportunities for themselves with the help of technologies.
As of last month, more than 103 million youths had used YouthSpark to learn skills they need for jobs in the market or to exchange business ideas.
Some youths shared their stories on our Web sites, telling us how they used computer software or social media not just to find jobs for themselves, but also create values for their lives.
As our goal is to make a global impact that is in-depth and far-reaching.
We aim to help at least 300 million youths from all over the world through the platform in three years because we see a huge need for us to intervene and help solve the high unemployment pressuring youths nowadays.
TT: Can you explain a bit more about the term “opportunity-divide” that Microsoft specifies in the YouthSpark program?
Badshah: According to economic research by various institutions, the unemployment rate among youths aged 15 to 24 years is up to twice as much as the average rate in just about every country.
The latest report by the Taiwanese government indicated that Taiwan’s unemployment rate was 4.33 percent last month, but its youth unemployment turned out to be as high as 14.77 percent.
Even when unemployed youths are educated, they can hardly find a job, in part because some do not receive the right training and sometimes because some cannot find a market that requires their skills.
So now, you see there is an “opportunity-divide” as shown in a labor market where most opportunities were taken away by people aged 24 years or older, but not by youths who might have been trained in colleges.
TT: There is a debate about technology being the main cause behind the rising unemployment rate as highly productive machines are gradually replacing human begins. What is your suggestion to youths?
Badshah: Today, technologies are growing so fast that nearly everyone has access to simple technology like the Internet in every country now, but the question is what we do with more convenient access to technologies.
There are certain jobs that are very likely to be replaced by technologies, machines and robots because businesses seek higher productivities and fewer labor costs.
They can works in manufacturing or construction sectors, for example. However, the question is how we can tackle the challenges by using technologies effectively.
In addition to the knowledge offered by colleges, additional technology training is increasingly important to each job seeker.
Nowadays, nearly every job requires candidates to have the skillsets of coding, programming or understanding computer languages.
On the platform of the Internet, nearly every industry is looking for talent that has the ability to code or at least “create” objects that help them make profits.
Therefore, it has become more crucial for everyone to be creative on the Internet. Having the ability to master technologies is not enough. The person who can add value to his or her job is going to be the winner.
TT: Is there advice you would like to offer to job makers?