“Up to a decade ago, Microsoft’s objective was to help bridge the digital divide. Today, our focus is to bridge the gap between education and employability. Half of today’s jobs require a certain degree of IT skill and experts predict this percentage will go up to 77 per cent in the next decade.”

This was stated by Adrianna Zammit, country manager for Microsoft Malta and Cyprus during her address at Project Fireworks, a project which saw corporate companies, educators and students coming together to share and discuss employment and opportunities offered by today’s sector.

Project Fireworks was a joint collaboration between Microsoft Malta, local Church schools, Holistic Institute of Learning, Misco and Nectar and offered a three-week educational programme during which around 2,000 Church school students attended daily sessions at the Microsoft Innovation Centre in Skyparks.

Throughout the three-week project, a number of interactive sessions were held that not only exposed the students to the latest technology such as tablets, productivity tools and cloud technology but also equipped them with a broader base of skills that local and international employers are currently asking for. Topics covered included IT skills, soft-skills and networking, all of which were delivered by experts in the industry.

In her presentation, Ms Zammit referred to the current employment scenario and noted how despite a recent dip over the past few years, global youth unemployment rates were back on the rise.

“This is where one starts to appreciate the importance and the huge potential that IT has in reversing these figures. Microsoft is strongly committed to support local youths to transition more smoothly from education-to-employment. We are putting our resources, including our Microsoft Innovation Centre, at the service of Malta’s local education sector to help students understand that the opportunities are there and they just have to grab them. Our commitment remains that of enabling this small country for the greatest success and education, is key to this success,” she said.

Ms Zammit also referred to the government’s recently announced tablet programme and said: “After years of training teachers and students, we will now continue to do so with the latest Windows tablets and our years of experience in supporting local education will enable us to collaborate with our partners to customise the use and content to the local needs.”

The event was also addressed by Education Minister Evarist Bartolo who also inaugurated the start of the project in November.

Simon Bonanno from Holistic Institute of Technology delivered an interesting presentation about the careers and motivations that drive most of today’s students, based on a survey conducted among the students who attended Project Fireworks.

Mr Bonanno said: “If our students are to be employable, the educational system needs to equip them with the new skills most required for tomorrow’s best jobs, across all occupations. These soft skills include communication, attention to detail, customer service focus, organisation and problem-solving. Students need to adapt to using new technologies with minimal effort.”

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