Microsoft Enabler Program - Virtualahan (Partner NPO, Philippines)CSR

Microsoft Enabler program provides AI, cloud training to PwDs

The Microsoft Enabler Program pushes for employment inclusion among people with disabilities (PwD) across the Asia-Pacific region.

The program will pilot in five countries — Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand — before expanding to the rest of the region by the end of 2020.

Companies committed to the program will receive training from the non-profit organizations (NPOs) to become inclusive employers, and these businesses will in turn provide job shadowing, internships, mentoring, and opportunities in tech jobs for PwDs identified by the NPOs.

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Microsoft will provide industry-required training in the cloud and artificial intelligence, as well as a platform to collaborate toward an inclusive future for everyone.

“In today’s workplace, it is imperative that we include everyone, and accessibility is the vehicle to inclusion,” said Vivek Puthucode, chief partner officer at Microsoft, Asia Pacific. “It is a responsibility and an opportunity. There are no limits to what people can achieve when technology reflects the diversity of everyone who uses it.”

Programming, computing

Microsoft will provide online training in data engineering and programming, cloud computing on Microsoft Azure and application development in GitHub to the PwDs. These modules will provide technology skills that are globally recognized and highly sought-after in the digital-first environment. It will then provide them with a learning path for industry-leading skill sets that increase their chances of getting employed.

For the employer partners, Microsoft will conduct workshops on inclusive design and assistive technologies enabled through artificial intelligence on Microsoft Azure.

“At the heart of the Microsoft Enabler Program is a comprehensive accessibility model that will not only improve inclusion of people with disabilities across Asia Pacific for years to come; it also connects to local talent from underrepresented communities and improves our society,” said Puthucode.

These NPOs will provide education and training to the employer partners to help them learn about working with PwDs, offer inputs on workplace modifications they may need to be an accessible employer, and guidance on mentoring PwDs.

“Inclusive organizations outperform their peers and attract and keep top talent, and we have seen how inclusion drives innovation,” Puthucode said.

The NPOs include Be. Lab (New Zealand), JA Korea and Korea Differently Abled Federation (South Korea), SG Enable (Singapore), The Redemptorist Foundation for People with Disabilities (Thailand), and Virtualahan (Philippines).

The employer partners are composed of Cloocus (Korea), Cognizant Technology Solutions (Singapore, Philippines), Crayon (Singapore, Philippines, Thailand), Datacom (New Zealand), DXC Technology (New Zealand), ePLDT (Philippines), HCL Technologies (Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, New Zealand), Ingram Micro Asia (Singapore), Metanet Tplatform (Korea), Nexus Tech (Philippines), NTT Asia Pacific (Singapore, Philippines, Thailand), NTT Data (Singapore, Philippines), Tech Data (Singapore), and Wipro (Singapore, Philippines, Thailand).

Assistive technology

These organizations, in addition to receiving training from the NPOs on creating inclusive workplaces, will also accelerate their disability inclusion program by completing Accessibility Fundamentals, the course by Microsoft Learn which provides guidance on inclusive design principles and leveraging assistive technology.

Microsoft’s partners in the region commit to providing opportunities for PwDs by providing job shadowing, training, mentoring, and internship attachments in technical roles. These opportunities will be offered in close collaboration with the NPO’s who will match the most suitable PwD profile, skills, qualifications, and ambitions with the requirements of the role.

To expand the talent pipeline for partners and connect job-seeking PwDs to tech roles, the program will also feature a virtual job fair, held at the end of second quarter of 2021, that brings together the Microsoft partners and NPOs. PwDs can use the opportunity to show their skills, experience from their job attachments and interests, while businesses share roles available to connect with potential hires.

Aside from job matching, the virtual event will include educational sessions about accessibility in the workplace, assistive technology as well as training, support, and tools to help organizations sustain their accessibility programs.