Microsoft has recently launched Imagine Cup Solve This, a new program to provide inspiration for students looking to help solve the world’s toughest problems whilst giving them a platform to narrow their skills gap.
Students engage digital skills to help IGOs, NGOs and Nonprofits
Fast paced growth across industry sectors in jobs that address these global challenges e.g Environmental consultant, e-Health specialist, not forgetting the associated business opportunities for innovation, urgently requires that relevant professional learning opportunities are put in place for young people. This is primarily to match evolving skills demands in the market and subsequently reduce unemployment rates. Shortages are forecast in areas like ICT and health sectors with an estimated deficit of 700,000 ICT specialists by 2015! The flagship ‘Agenda for New Skills and Jobs’, integral to the EU2020 strategy, has firmly set the tone for progress. Realizing these ambitions means scaling up collaborative initiatives in the same vein as ‘Imagine Cup Solve This’.
Intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and non-profits now will be able to seek the help of passionate students competing in Microsoft’s Imagine Cup to develop innovative solutions to real-world problems. Global IGOs and NGOs including NetHope, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Programme on Youth, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), are among the first organizations to participate.
IGOs, NGOs and nonprofits often encounter difficult challenges while working to address tough global issues such as education and literacy, disaster relief, environmental sustainability and global healthcare. These organizations recognize that technology solutions can expand the reach of their services and help them more effectively meet the needs of their audiences. Gianluca Bruni, Chief, IT Emergency Preparedness and Response-United Nations World Food Programme says:
‘’The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is excited and proud to be participating in the 2010 Imagine Cup Solve This initiative. For the first time, the number of hungry people around the world has increased to over one billion. We look forward to working with Microsoft and the great IT minds of this generation to develop practical and innovative tools to raise awareness of this cause and assist us in our fight against hunger.”
According to Wilfried Luetkenhorst, Managing Director UNIDO:
“UNIDO is about creating prosperity in societies around the world — through the imaginative power of entrepreneurs. For this, we need creators, innovators and business-minded people who want to shape their environment and societies for the greater good. The Imagine Cup is a fantastic way to empower young people to come up with creative ideas to solve some of our most pressing global problems. If not the young generation, who will create the world of tomorrow?”
Through Imagine Cup Solve This, Microsoft is providing a marketplace of specific real-world issues that students can select to create entrepreneurial solutions for based on new technologies, as part of the annual Imagine Cup competition. In their submissions, participating organizations have asked students to create these solutions:
- Technology solutions to promote and assist organizations and educators that foster early reading and literacy among young children
- An online knowledge management system, or “online campus,” with educational content and virtual classrooms for different areas of interest, allowing teachers to interact, collaborate and share information with students
- Mobile or fixed devices to capture and send videos or transmit live broadcasts from remote areas and harsh conditions
- An integrated collaboration and communication platform that encourages youth participation in global development efforts
Students can register for Imagine Cup 2011 today and access a library of problems submitted by the organizations to find project ideas that address issues that matter most to them. Students can put their ideas into action as they create technology solutions in several different categories of competition. Additional details about the Imagine Cup 2011 competitions and challenges are available at here. Microsoft plans to expand Imagine Cup Solve This over time to include submissions from additional global IGOs, NGOs and nonprofits that are interested in participating.
“The Imagine Cup provided an outlet for me to bring my ideas to life,” said Vinny Jeet, a member of Team OneBeep from the University of Auckland, Imagine Cup 2010 third-place winner in software design. “But the Imagine Cup isn’t just a competition, it’s a global movement that is helping students become entrepreneurs with a purpose.”
Interested to get involved? Look here. Indeed, developing the right skills and preparing for the jobs of 2020 should be a priority.