BRUSSELS, Belgium and VIENNA, Austria, December 2 /PRNewswire/ --
- EU recognises Microsoft's partner organisations for helping people find and retain jobs.
Microsoft Corp today announced it will invest an additional 5 million euro in cash and software in non-governmental organisations (NGO) that run community skills training projects in 30 countries across Europe. This investment is part of Microsoft's long-term commitment to foster skills and drive growth through creating employability opportunities for young unemployed, seniors and people with disabilities. The company is committed to increasing its investments with projects and partners in the areas of education, employability, digital literacy and building the capacity of NGOs, despite the current economic climate.
A skilled IT workforce is essential to creating new jobs and fuelling economic growth in Europe, yet almost 300 million Europeans have no e-skills today. We hope to bridge this gap by investing into community-based projects to further advance e-inclusion in Europe, said Jan Muehlfeit, Microsoft's Europe Chairman.
Through its Unlimited Potential Community Technology Skills Program Microsoft has responded to the e-inclusion and e-skills deficit identified by the European Commission. Microsoft has developed an inclusive approach, partnering with NGOs, industry and other stakeholders. Over the next three years, it will reach 4.7 million people in over 3,000 Community Technology Centers across Europe. Microsoft is also supporting the launch of Telecentre-Europe.org at the e-Inclusion Ministerial Conference in Vienna. The network of telecentres is dedicated to strengthening digital inclusion actions through knowledge exchange and advocacy.
Nine community-based projects supported by Microsoft were shortlisted in six award categories for this year's EU ministerial e-Inclusion conference awards. Milton Keynes Council from the UK, and Window to the Future from Lithuania, received the awards in the Cultural Diversity and the Digital Literacy categories respectively.
We are enormously proud of the partner organisations that won these awards. It is an excellent recognition of their hard work and dedication to e-inclusion, Muehlfeit said. For Microsoft every single project is a winner, as each one demonstrates that projects focused on helping people find and retain jobs in Europe is vital to the economy.
The announcement also represents Microsoft's support for Europe's vision of an inclusive information society for Europe 2020. The people in training today will be the workforce of tomorrow's Europe, and in the current economic climate, specific focus needs to be paid to training today's workers for tomorrow's jobs. This ongoing vision is part of Microsoft's drive to be a strong European partner and help grow the European economy.
Last year, Microsoft invested almost 50 million euro into various e-inclusion projects. This investment is helping community organisations and NGOs through in kind and money donations and creating a one-stop portal for non-profit organisations, NGO Connection ( http://www.microsoft.com/ngo/en/us/default.mspx). Also through Microsoft Unlimited Potential initiatives in Central and Eastern Europe which aim at transforming education, enabling jobs and fostering local innovation. Microsoft also supports educational initiatives such as providing grants, training and curriculum to enhance teaching and learning across the region. Moreover, Microsoft has work closely with more than 40 assistive technology vendors in Europe so that the best products and services are delivered to people with disabilities, and has provided seed funding to create and launch the Accessibility Interoperability Alliance.
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BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON MICROSOFT PARTNERED COMMUNITY-BASED PROJECTS
Winners of the 2008 e-Inclusion awards (awarded at the 2008 EU ministerial conference on e-Inclusion - Vienna, 1 December 2008)
Winner in the Cultural Diversity category:
Milton Keynes Council - United Kingdom
ConnectMK/Digital MK supports people on low incomes and those from excluded groups to improve their lives through the use of digital technology. Initiatives range from distributing low cost PCs, (refurbished, well-specified, ex-council PCs and laptops) and providing tele-health initiatives to improve the accessibility of online public services.
The collaboration with Microsoft has provided Milton Keynes Council with a unique tool to help reduce the impact of environmental waste by refurbishing PCs and then providing them to people without access to a PC. This enables them to develop new skills at the lowest possible cost. The Scheme also supports the Milton Keynes Council Plan and other community plans to promote community cohesion and economic prosperity. Not only does Microsoft provide software with the 'Citizens Skills Pack', including a.o. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, MS Live Suite and Internet Safety, but the organisation also enables citizens to rent refurbished PCs for a nominal fee of pounds Sterling 1.5 a week to assist their digital inclusion, adult learning and small business programmes. Microsoft's investments and funds have enabled the Milton Keynes Council to deliver digital inclusion solutions and become an e-inclusion nominee.
Winner in the Digital Literacy category:
Window to the Future: Association Langas i ateiti - Lithuania
The Window 2 Future project from the Langas i ateiti alliance increases the accessibility of Internet and e-services through computer literacy and Internet training for adults. Through their national 'Computer Literacy Basics for a Lithuanian E-Citizen' digital literacy project they have trained over 50,000 people in basic computer, Internet and e-services skills.
Lithuanian private business association Langas i Ateiti/Window to the Future has been implementing public internet access points and society training projects since 2002. Microsoft Lietuva is one of the Window to the Future partners and projects sponsors. It supports the Public Information Access Points (PIAP) project with both training support and the software needed for PIAP computers. 50,000 people have been trained through Microsoft's Unlimited Potential programme this year. It is a demonstration of how the right software, skills and content allow new communities to use technology for economic and social gains. We could not have this kind of impact on the e-literacy without the strong collaboration with Microsoft.
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