Remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua, Laura F. Dogu
Managua, April 26, 2016
I am very happy to participate in the signing of this important agreement with Microsoft.
This is the third public-private alliance between USAID and the private sector that I have announced in recent months. With its corporate social responsibility program, “YouthSpark,” Microsoft will provide information technology programs and advanced technology courses with a value of approximately $2.5 million dollars, for some 20,000 students that participate USAID’s education, democracy, and crime prevention programs. This will permit the students to better prepare themselves to continue their studies and to obtain better jobs by having the required technological knowledge for the job market.
Thanks to this alliance, Microsoft will provide computers and software for the schools, technical vocational centers, and universities that we support now through USAID. And believe me, these computers and software are the biggest attraction for the boys and girls. With this technology they can do their homework, learn more about topics of interest, or simply play and have fun in a safe and pleasant environment.
We all live in a world that is changing rapidly. We are immersed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with technology that in the next 10 years, will change the world economy and our own lives. So that Nicaragua can achieve its true economic potential, it is important that Nicaraguans think about how technology is changing the world and how to obtain the necessary skills to obtain employment when all jobs are based on technology. There is not any car, motorcycle, or television that does not use technology. This can be achieved with technology education.
The studies carried out by the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP) in 2015 quantify the high level of informality in the Nicaraguan economy. They note that the majority of small companies and informal businesses lack formal accounting systems and only 8% of businesses invest in the development of human capital. In addition, close to 50% of companies in Nicaragua have difficulties finding employees with the ability to use basic or advanced computer programs. It is for these reasons that this alliance between USAID and Microsoft is more than timely.
We know that the use of technology at an early age permits children to have a level of comfort that they will maintain for life. We also know that many young people abandon formal education very early, leaving them behind academically and limiting their employment opportunities. The goal of this agreement is to offer concrete alternatives to these young people, such as greater access to education, vocational training workshops, life skills, and primarily, jobs.
In the globalized and interconnected world of today, the learning and management of technology is necessary to obtain any type of job. In providing boys, girls, and adolescents the access to digital technology, we will help to strengthen the = job market’s ability to modernize and accelerate Nicaragua’s economy.
I want to thank our good friends at Microsoft for all that they are doing to benefit Nicaraguan children and adolescents. It is a great pleasure to formalize this agreement with an important private sector partner. The U.S. government and USAID encourage other businesses to unite forces with us in education and crime prevention programs to improve the security and prosperity of Nicaragua and its citizens.
Let’s remember that we should all be “the spark of change!”
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