As world business and civic leaders converge in New York this week to attend the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and Microsoft jointly released Global Youth: Emerging Trends and Next Steps. The report, which describes progress made and challenges remaining for today’s young men and women making their way in the world, is a follow-up to the March 2012 joint publication Opportunity for Action. The new report’s release is timed to help shape the many discussions that will take place this week on the pressing issue of youth unemployment and the solutions needed to address it.  

“We may one day point to 2012 as the year the tide began to turn for the world’s youth,” the new publication explains. It proceeds to identify three global trends that are connecting underserved youth with greater economic opportunities. These trends include offering youth with inadequate schooling a second chance, supporting youth entrepreneurship as a serious livelihood option, and equipping young people with a range of IT skills and competencies.  

“Since the release of the Opportunity for Action paper more than a year ago, we have witnessed remarkable progress in the overall effort to build a global community of business, government, and civil society organizations committed to expanding job and learning opportunities for today’s youth,” said William S. Reese, President and CEO of IYF. “In particular, the private sector has taken significant steps to create new and innovative solutions to global youth unemployment through multi-sector partnerships.”

Microsoft, which has taken the lead in increasing access to technology education among today’s young people, announced today the impact of its global YouthSpark initiative. Since its launch in September 2012, YouthSpark has created new education, employment, and entrepreneurship opportunities for 103 million young people around the world.  

“As we have worked with young people on their most critical challenges throughout the year, we have been inspired by their leadership and passion to seize these opportunities to enhance not only their own lives, but also the world around them,” said Lori Forte Harnick, General Manager, Citizenship and Public Affairs at Microsoft. “For this reason, we see a strong correlation between youth development and global economic growth and believe there is great value in investing in youth as a critical path toward investing in the future.”

Accordingly, Microsoft announced the availability of new and expanded technology education and skills training programs for youth. As part of this effort, IYF is rolling out Build Your Business, a curriculum and training program that enables young men and women across Africa and the Middle East to take those first crucial steps to start their own enterprises.