With the aim of creating sustainable livelihood options for underserved communities, Microsoft India formed a partnership with Aide et Action to provide support through grants that include cash, software and curriculum. Under an Institute for Livelihood, Education (iLEAD) program by Aide et Action (India), several people with disabilities were equipped with relevant Information Technology (IT) skills that enabled them to find jobs.
Many people with disabilities often have difficulties in finding employment due to their physical difficulties and the discrimination received from the community. iLEAD helps these people to overcome their disabilities by equipping them with relevant skills and matching them to available jobs from various job agencies.
Shanti Lal Sharma is one of the students from iLEAD Chittorgarh who benefitted from this program. Sharma lost both his hands in a work-related accident and this was the beginning of hardships for him as he was unable to make a living.
Following a district collector’s recommendation, Sharma joined the iLEAD program and was offered an Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) course based on his interest. Through the dedicated guidance from staff, he managed to learn how to operate a computer with his toes. After several attempts, Sharma successfully got a job as a data entry operator with the aid of iLEAD.
Sharma found a job as data entry operator after receiving IT training.
“The staff and batch mates were very supportive and played an important role in building my confidence. I was given special attention during the training and the environment at iLEAD has given me a positive outlook on life,” said Sharma.
Another beneficiary of the iLEAD program is Swedit Blessy, a speech and hearing impaired girl from a poor family in Palayamkottai, Tirunelveli. Blessy learnt how to use Microsoft® Office software, speak English and improved her typing skills. She is currently working in Franc Tech BPO as a data entry operator.
Blessy picking up computer skills at the center.
“I am privileged to have the opportunity to take up the ITES course at iLEAD. It has helped me overcome my shyness and increase my level of confidence,” said Blessy.
“The staff and batch mates were very supportive and played an important role in building my confidence. I was given special attention during the training and the environment at iLEAD has given me a positive outlook on life.”- Shanti Lal Sharma, Beneficiary
Microsoft believes that every child deserves a great education. For ten years running, the company has led the way in helping 8 million educators use technology to educate and inspire more than 190 million students globally through Partners in Learning, a series of professional development programs hosted by Microsoft, aimed at improving teaching and learning worldwide, including in Thailand.
Under the Partners in Learning program, Microsoft gives credence to teachers who use technology in their teaching methods, and rewards the most innovative educators with the Innovative Teacher Leadership Award. The Thailand version of the awards ceremony took place from 3-5 February and involved as many as 113 eligible teachers in the selection process. The event was jointly organized by Microsoft Thailand and the Ministry of Education, and comprised a panel of respectable judges specially appointed by the Secretary General from the Office of Basic Education Commission. Ten winners were chosen and given the rare chance to accept trophies from Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhon. The winners were also given the honor to represent Thailand at the March 2012 Asia and Pacific Partners in Learning Forum, to meet and greet and share best practices with other national winners.
All the participants of Innovative Teachers
One of the finalists impressed the judges with a project that inculcated more than just technology skills in children as young as in the first grade. The teacher incorporated Microsoft® PowerPoint® and Paint into exercises, such as creating .jpg files, to train their problem solving, critical thinking and creative skills. Another finalist project that impressed the judges involved the use of SkyDrive®, a cloud storage product that allows users to store and access files through any web browser. For this project, the teacher took a three-prong approach by encouraging all three parties, the teachers, students and parents, to create and share knowledge with each other via one common platform. This makes learning easy for all.
By recognizing these teachers’ innovative efforts, and giving them opportunities to grow on an international stage, Microsoft hopes to show that technology, when combined with education, has the potential to inspire and make positive change in youths around the world.
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The 2009 global financial crisis left an estimated 70,000 people jobless in Thailand. In response to the crisis, Microsoft introduced a program called ‘Building Employability Through Technology and Entrepreneurship’ (BETTER) to hone the Information Technology (IT) skills of more than 21,000 citizens. The American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) recognized Microsoft Thailand’s efforts with a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Award in 2011.
The American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) recognized Microsoft Thailand’s efforts with a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Award in 2011.
BETTER began as a three-part collaborative effort involving Microsoft, the Kenan Institute of Asia and the Ministry of Labor in Thailand. The program imparted IT skills to the local workforce over a span of three years, and helped budding entrepreneurs meet industry demands in IT capabilities.
To date, more than 26,000 people have benefited from BETTER, and Microsoft expects this number to increase to 40,000 in its bid to make 70 million lives better.
The Managing Director of Microsoft Thailand, Mr Birathon Kasemsri Na Ayudhaya said, “Microsoft Thailand believes that greater access to technology and the sharing of IT skills can really transform lives and enhance living standards. Therefore we have been focusing a lot of our attention on this through the BETTER Program for workforce enhancement.”
The President of AMCHAM, Mr Peter Eliot, explained why Microsoft deserved the award: “We have a fundamental belief in using technology to bridge the gaps in our society and better equip the Thai workforce with the knowledge and skills that are necessary in today’s IT world. The BETTER Program plays a vital role in bringing success to the Thai peoples’ careers in terms of workforce capabilities and job opportunities, and will eventually prepare them for the ASEAN free trade in the future.”
This was the 4th award that Microsoft Thailand has received from AMCHAM for its efforts in reaching out to the local community.
“We have a fundamental belief in using technology to bridge the gaps in our society and better equip the Thai workforce with the knowledge and skills that are necessary in today’s IT world. The project plays a vital role in bringing success to the Thai peoples’ careers in terms of workforce capabilities and job opportunities, and will eventually prepare them for the upcoming ASEAN free trade in the future.” - Mr Peter Eliot, President, American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM)
“Microsoft Thailand believes that greater access to technology and the sharing of IT skills can really transform lives and enhance living standards, so we have been focusing a lot of our attention on this through the BETTER Program for workforce enhancement.” - Mr Birathon Kasemsri Na Ayudhaya, Managing Director, Microsoft Thailand
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In 2011 Thailand experienced one of its worst episodes of flooding. As of December 18, the flooding had affected 12.1 million people, the World Disaster Report website reported 762 deaths and 2 missing persons. Many technology pundits believe that the lack of a proper data collection system and inadequate weather forecasting are the main reasons behind this historic flooding.
Microsoft Thailand has been instrumental in supporting the flood relief by developing software to provide more information surrounding the crisis. By using the Location Based Information System (LBIS), Microsoft collaborated with a local partner, EcartStudio, to tackle the flood crisis through a general public website, http://www.thairelief.com. It displays useful flood-related information, like population, relief efforts, evacuation centers and hospitals.
Together with students from Mahidol University, Khon Kaen University and Bangkok University, Microsoft also developed two applications for flood data for Windows Phone 7 users – “Thai Flood Watch” and “Thai Dam Monitor”. Through the applications, users can request assistance, be updated about the flood, such as the water level among the major canals and dams, and obtain information such as useful emergency contact numbers. Additionally, Microsoft is also working with international and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as the Thai Red Cross Society and the Mirror Foundation, to aid relief efforts. Its assistance has already benefitted more than 10,000 victims.
Microsoft employees helping at relief efforts.
Beyond supporting the Thai relief effort with IT, a team of 20 individuals, consisting of Microsoft staff, their friends, family members and partners, was formed. The team headed to one of the most impacted areas in the Nakornphatom Province to distribute flood relief bags to the affected people and families in the area. After spending about 15 hours to load 1,000 bags from the Microsoft office building onto the military trucks, the Microsoft team then drove to the affected areas. They eventually rowed the loaded kayaks for over 10 kilometers to the flood victims. This was the team’s fifth volunteer effort in two months, and they were working with the 1,500 Mile Foundation, a local NGO, to deliver the supplies. On top of this, the Microsoft team also donated cash for additional supplies. Other Microsoft volunteers have also assisted in the construction of life jackets out of water bottles for the flood victims at the Flood Relief Operations Center.
For the duration of this crisis, Microsoft Thailand will continue to provide aid to the needy and give back to the community by packing personal necessities and medicines, and participating in blood donation drives at the Red Cross organization in Thailand.
“This was an extremely well-planned effort executed by our employees and a community of partners. Their contribution to the flood effort was what made the company stand out from the rest. I continue to be in awe of our employees, who readily step up to any challenges in their way,” said Mr Birathon Kasemsri Na Ayudhaya, Managing Director, Microsoft Thailand.
“This was an extremely well-planned effort executed by our employees and a community of partners. Their contribution to the flood effort was what made the company stand out from the rest. I continue to be in awe of our employees, who readily step up to any challenges in their way.” - Mr Birathon Kasemsri Na Ayudhaya, Managing Director, Microsoft Thailand
In 2011, the Sri Lankan government created a first-of-its-kind information technology (IT)/Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) park with the goal to provide up to 100,000 employment opportunities by 2016. This would contribute directly to the national vision of having 10% of the country’s labor force working in IT and BPO related jobs by 2020.
For this national initiative, Microsoft Sri Lanka contributed its capacity as a business partner, resource provider and facilitator of necessary IT facilities to support industry players such as Tech One Global and the Vocational Training Authority (VTA).
Tech One Global, one of Microsoft’s most well-established partners, would be the first ever Sri Lankan company to set up operations in the park. Mr Wasantha Weerakoon, CEO of Tech One Global, shared that plans were already underway for the company to commence operations by February 2012, providing 50 job opportunities for youths interested in the BPO line of work. The facility would function as an on-the-job training facility for youths to carry out real time BPO work.
Speaking further about his vision, he said that “We’re extremely happy to be partnering with Hon. Namal Rajapakse MP, and leading industry players like Microsoft, VTA, IDM and SLASSCOM to kick start this project. This will help us make the entire island a skilled IT trained country as opposed to just centralizing it in Colombo, and will aid our economy and development immensely. The training program these young BPO operators will undergo is on par with international standards and requirements and we are confident that it will help our own BPO industry, compete with any other country.”
“We’re extremely happy to be partnering with Hon. Namal Rajapakse MP, and leading industry players like Microsoft, VTA, IDM and SLASSCOM to kick start this project. This will help us make the entire island a skilled IT trained country as opposed to just centralizing it in Colombo, and will aid our economy and development immensely. The training programme these young BPO operators will undergo is on par with international standards and requirements and we are confident that it will help our own BPO industry, compete with any other country.” - Mr Wasantha Weerakoon, CEO, Tech One Global
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