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Since the launch of the Microsoft APAC Enabler program seven months ago, sixteen PwDs have secured full time roles, internships, mentorships[i], and training[ii] opportunities through the program, with more than 110 PwDs are currently being matched to 65 potential roles with Microsoft Partners.
Sri Lanka joins Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, South Korea and New Zealand, where non-profits like Enable Lanka Foundation and the Korea Employment Agency for Persons with Disabilities educate and train Partners on creating inclusive workplaces and being inclusive employers. These nonprofits join 19 other Microsoft Partners including ZILLIONe Systems Solutions, Redstone System, and DDLS Philippines to remove barriers for a more diverse workforce.
“In 2020, we saw an incredible number of businesses which have pivoted to cloud. With this, being equipped with a digital skillset is fast becoming the currency of our post-pandemic world. To unlock more for PwDs, it’s imperative that skilling and employment opportunities in technical roles are front and center of our economic reset in the region. Which is why we are so proud of the next step Microsoft is taking in our accessibility journey, a 5-year commitment to help bridge the global “Disability Divide”, doubling down to expand what is possible with accessible technology, opening doors for disabled talent to enter the workforce and continuing our journey of disability inclusion in the workplace,” said Pratima Amonkar, Chair for D&I and Accessibility for Microsoft APAC who leads the Microsoft Enabler Program.
In a roundtable discussion on digital skills during a virtual visit to Asia Pacific yesterday, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella shared that to transform society, we need to create opportunities for the more than 1 billion people in the world who have disabilities, so they can participate in the world economy. He shared the importance of having a continuous learning mindset and reiterated Microsoft’s mission that is grounded on ensuring every person has the tools and skills that allow them to create, build and change the communities they live and work in.
PwDs hired by employer partners
- Zeus Oliveros is one of the first PwDs to be hired through the program. He joined Cognizant Philippines‘ call center team as an Associate for three and a half months doing callouts and data analysis. Through this experience, he found his passion for content development and marketing and is now looking for a role in that area.
- Kang Joohyun, a person who is deaf, is currently employed in Cloocus Korea. While she is still new to the team and is learning about the company’s major sales and purchasing structure, she will in time take a leading role in the cost accounting department.
- Marcus Tan is a third-year student at Temasek Polytechnic with cerebral palsy. He joined NTT Data in Singapore for a three-month internship in October 2020 and was tasked with developing an internal application. Following his internship, NTT Data Singapore is now conducting talks to PwD students and their wider cohorts in local polytechnics to raise awareness around diversity and inclusion.
- Jidapa Nitiwirakun and Thatsaphon Chikhunthod are currently interning at NTT Asia Pacific (Thailand)‘s information technology department while completing their degrees at the Pattaya Redemptorist Technological College. This internship has shown Thatsaphon that his physical disabilities do not inhibit his dreams of being a programmer; a career which he finds challenging as there are always new developments to learn, practice and apply.
Building an inclusive economy in APAC
Accessibility must be a priority. And every one of us will experience a form of disability at some point in our lives, whether temporary, situational, or permanent. By empowering PwDs to fully participate in our economies, we are effectively increasing our productive population, and this can lead to a 1-7% rise in GDP.
Microsoft provides training in technology skills including cloud and artificial intelligence, bi-monthly tech consult sessions where volunteer employees share their tech expertise with Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Teams. More than 120 PwDs have benefitted from these sessions.
“The feedback from the Microsoft Partners have been extremely encouraging. By supporting them through the program and enabling them to have a focused approach, our Partners are seeing their cultures improve, their people becoming more inclusive and their community being more empathetic.” Pratima continued.
Microsoft has rolled out 45 training hours focused on inclusive hiring and design as well as assistive technologies enabled through artificial intelligence on Microsoft Azure. Microsoft Partners receive education and training by NPOs, on topics such as workplace modifications required and on how to best work with and mentor PwDs.
“The last seven months have been an incredible period of learning and growth for us and our Partners and we have just begun the journey. For the Microsoft APAC Enabler Program to reach its full potential, I hope that more Partners, nonprofits, PwDs will join us, so that together, we can work collectively towards an inclusive future for every person.” Pratima concluded.
[i] Mentorships prepare our PwD talent for employment by pairing them with a potential hiring manager in a mentor-mentee relationship that can last up to one year or more.
[ii] Training offered by employer partners equip our PwD talent with skills and knowledge related to upcoming projects to prepare them for a potential full-time role.