The Microsoft Enabler Program launched today pioneers disability inclusive workplaces across Asia Pacific by removing the barriers for a more diverse workforce. With more than 1 billion people with disabilities (PwDs) in the world, disability-inclusive employment can lead to 1-7% rise in GDP in Asia Pacific through increased economic productivity. [United Nations ESCAP]
The program will pilot in five markets: Korea, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, before expanding to the rest of the region by the end of 2020.
Organizations 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 NPO’s. Microsoft will provide industry required training in cloud & artificial intelligence, as well as a platform for all three to collaborate towards an inclusive future for every person.
“In today’s workplace, it is imperative that we include everyone, and accessibility is the vehicle to inclusion. 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,” said Vivek Puthucode, Chief Partner Office at Microsoft in Asia Pacific. “Inclusive organizations outperform their peers and attract and keep top talent, and we have seen how inclusion drives innovation”.
Skills and Knowledge
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 crucial technology skills that are globally recognized, and highly sought after in our digital first and remote everything world, therefore providing them with a learning path for industry leading skillsets that improves their employability. 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,” continued Vivek.
The Non-Profit Organizations:
1. Be. Lab (New Zealand)
2. JA Korea
3. KODAF (Korea Differently Abled Federation)
4. SG Enable (Singapore)
5. The Redemptorist Foundation for People with Disabilities (Thailand)
6. Virtualahan (Philippines)
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.
The employer partners:
1. Cloocus (Korea)
2. Cognizant Technology Solutions (Singapore, Philippines)
3. Crayon (Singapore, Philippines, Thailand)
4. Datacom (New Zealand)
5. DXC Technology (New Zealand)
6. ePLDT (Philippines)
7. HCL Technologies (Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, New Zealand)
8. Ingram Micro Asia (Singapore)
9. Metanet Tplatform (Korea)
10. Nexus Tech (Philippines)
11. NTT Asia Pacific (Singapore, Philippines, Thailand)
12. NTT Data (Singapore, Philippines)
13. Tech Data (Singapore)
14. Wipro (Singapore, Philippines, Thailand)
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.
“2020 has been a difficult year for everyone and when we look at the incredible number of businesses and governments who have pivoted to cloud with Microsoft in the region, tech roles and digital skills will be the backbone of the economic recovery every country. And one of the ways we can enable an inclusive recovery is by empowering every person and every business with technology skills,” he continued.
Engaging PwDs in the Workplace
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.
“Accessibility starts with building a culture of inclusion in the workplace. The more you focus on it, the more your culture will improve and evolve. The company culture and workplace environment are important elements of a successful accessibility program. At Microsoft, our vision and strategy of accessibility was to embed inclusive, accessible design into the fabric of the company. And we want to enable every organization to be inclusive,” concluded Vivek.
Enabling the Employment of PwDs
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 showcase their skills, experience from their job attachments and interests, while businesses share roles available to connect with potential hires. In addition to 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.
Learn about the four-module Microsoft Learn course on Accessibility Fundamentals here and Accessibility Technology and Tools here.
Non-profit organization quotes
• Minnie Baragwanath, Founder & Chief Possibility Officer, Be. Lab, New Zealand
“At Be. Lab and the Global Centre of Possibility we are delighted to be working alongside the team at Microsoft and their partners on such a critical programme to advance access and employment in Aotearoa and the wider Asia Pacific. Access citizens are an untapp ed pool of talent that bring a unique set of skills to forward-thinking, 21st century workplaces such as problem-solving, agility, persistence, and innovation.”
• Moonhwan Yuh, Executive Director of JA Korea
“Creativeness comes from diversity and people with disability is another form of diversity. Microsoft has been partnering with JA Korea for inclusive education and now advancing the program to inclusive hiring where the workplace will be more creative place.”
• GongYeol, Choi, President and CEO Of Korea Differently Abled Federation, Korea
The world around us is rapidly becoming more diverse. It is critically important to understand the world in which we live and work and how we can value diversity and foster inclusion. By partnering with Microsoft, we believe that we can accelerate an inclusive global economy where people with disabilities participate fully and meaningfully.
• Mr Tan Ko We, Assistant Chief Executive, SG Enable, Singapore
“Work is dignity and employment empowers people with disabilities to lead fulfilling lives. Microsoft has been offering mentorship, internship and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities and recently shared their best practices at SG Enable’s Inclusive Business Forum. We look forward to strengthening our continued partnership with Microsoft to further empower companies in Singapore with the necessary knowledge and skills to hire persons with disabilities and to build a more inclusive workforce for the future.”
• Narong Rattanasopa, The Redemptorist Foundation for People with Disabilities, Thailand
“Life with a disability in Thailand can be a daily struggle that can include discrimination. A person may not be able to access a place of learning or a place of work, therefore PwDs people are left to simply exist at home. Microsoft has supported us for many years with trainings and software, now with increasing support of employment opportunity. We’re thankful to Microsoft for ensuring that people with disabilities can have better jobs and importantly, better living.”
• Ryan Gersava, Founder and President of Virtualahan Inc., Philippines
“Our experience taught us that Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) are positive investments. Together with Microsoft, we train them for competitive employment in the digital economy. Employers especially noted their loyalty and passion for learning; jobs liberate them from the destructive impact of poverty and low self-esteem. Unfortunately, the PWDs are already left behind because of outdated labour practices in the Philippines. The impact of 4IR and COVID-19 could push down even further unless we act now by making inclusive hiring the new normal.”