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Authored by Verena Lüber, Office of co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe.

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Close to 75 million young people were unemployed in 2012. Young people make up 40% of the world’s unemployed. At the same time, leaders around the world have difficulties in filling open positions as today’s workforce is lacking the required skills.  This situation is one of today’s greatest threats impacting global economic growth, sustainable development and the quality of people’s lives. The answer is easy access to education and learning opportunities for everyone around the globe. SAP is already driving various education initiatives including programs like the Academy Cube, Skills for Africa or giving access to latest innovation through the SAP HANA start-up program. At the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, our Co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe has committed SAP to now also support the global Business Backs Education Initiative. At the same time he agreed to co-chair the initiative in 2014/2015 together with the CEO of Crescent Petroleum, Majid Jafar, stating: “As leaders we are fortunate to be leaders in time of radical change – but this fortune comes with the responsibility to look beyond the immediate  and see how we can impact the world for the better. This is not a philanthropic exercise – this is a business requirement”.

At a panel with Irina Bokova, Director General of Unesco, Hani Ashkar, Senior Partner PwC Middle East, Vikas Potal, CEO GEMS Varkey Foundation and Majid Jafar, Jim was speaking about the fact, that businesses cannot wait for the traditional education system to solve the challenge alone. New technologies are driving radical transformation in all industries much faster than ever before. And young people in all areas of the world – particularly in underdeveloped and emerging regions – need access to education much faster than before to be able and develop the skills of the future. This can only be done if public and private sector team up as individual efforts do not scale fast enough. “If business doesn’t come on board we will have a lost opportunity. We need young sharp minds to solve today’s pressing challenges like the scarcity of resources. But to come to the table with their disruptive ideas they need the education, a voice and access.  With technology we are – for the first time able –  to bring education to everyone and at very low cost”, said Jim Hagemann Snabe. With tools like MooCs one professor  can now reach 30,000 instead of the 20 students of the past at almost no costs and in a highly individualized way. Asked about the fact that many countries are missing a sufficient number of pens and paper for students and what he would recommend for that, Jim stated: “Through technology we might be able to leapfrog. I argue with the right commitment from companies we can get underdeveloped countries and regions online, give out tablets and therefore create a modern infrastructure for learning. If you look at the mobile infrastructure in Africa, it proves that for some countries it is easier to jump right to this world of latest technology than going through the same evolution the Europe did.”

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