As the third largest economy in the world, the opportunity divide faced by certain segments of the youth population in Japan might come as surprising news. For Kiho Park, a Microsoft YouthSpark advisor and founder of nonprofit Dream times Possibility (DxP), the limited access to IT training resources in Japan’s underserved communities was a reality he found troubling.
“Despite the high standard of education in Japan, there are still many young adults not equipped with the relevant IT skills to find gainful employment,” said Kiho. “I want to contribute and help address this opportunity gap, and support disadvantaged youth to develop the skills they need to succeed in their future career paths.”
As a student, Kiho participated in the Japan-Asia Youth Exchange Programme and was engaged in a diverse range of youth development initiatives. Through the cross-cultural engagement, he gained a deeper appreciation of how support programmes can help youth boost their self-esteem and empower them to dream big.
In 2012, Kiho founded DxP with the specific aim of fostering digital literacy amongst underprivileged youth. In partnership with Microsoft and Sodateage Net, DxP is now actively involved in collaborating with local businesses and nonprofit groups to introduce more hands-on IT workshops in public schools across Japan.
With Microsoft’s support, DxP has been playing an active role to impart IT skills to youth and help teachers carry out their lessons more effectively by integrating Microsoft Office training within youth career development support programmes.
DxP is also discussing with Microsoft the potential to extend more opportunities for young people to hone their computer knowledge. These include organising programming courses at the school level, where students can pick up some basic coding skills and experience the process of creating a game or mobile app.
Kiho views technology empowerment as being pivotal to addressing rising youth unemployment in Japan. He explained, “Many schools in Japan still do not offer computer science and IT training as part of their academic curriculum, and these are skills that will become increasingly significant in today’s digital age. Through such collaboration with the local communities, I believe we can better help young people realise their full potential and develop the capabilities to create new solutions for the digital future.”
As a Microsoft YouthSpark Youth advisor, Kiho looks ahead to sharing his own experience and unique perspectives into how nonprofits can work together to address youth unemployment. He will continue building on his efforts to promote computer science among Japanese students, inspiring them to embrace new possibilities through technology.