Through the years Microsoft has endorsed initiatives, charities and volunteer organizations by offering software donations, scholarships and supporting its staff to volunteer their time equipping people with essential Information Technology (IT) skills needed in the 21st century workforce.
One such initiative, the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Scholarship, was started with the objective to open up more information communication career paths to people with disabilities. Twenty-three year-old Jeremiah Oon was diagnosed with hearing impairment after a high fever at the age of three. Mr Oon received the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Scholarship in 2009 when he was pursuing a Diploma in Information Technology at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, and has again been awarded the scholarship in 2011 as he pursues a Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Science) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
“Microsoft recognizes the hidden potential that people with disabilities have and it encourages them to hone their skills,” said Mr Oon.
The scholarship has also equipped 61 year-old Madam Cheow Chin Wang with skills for continued employment. When she started her IT classes at the Organization of Senior Volunteers (RSVP), she was computer illiterate. But with RSVP's lessons and Microsoft Unlimited Potential PowerPoint training courses, she is now teaching her skills as a certified trainer herself.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you are able to help and be appreciated. By helping another person, you not only put a smile on their face, but yours, too!” said Madam Cheow.
Another beneficiary of Microsoft's initiatives is Michael Quek from the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD). The 46 year-old was an electrician prior to suffering a stroke in 2005. Through Microsoft's Infocomm Accessibility Centre (IAC), an initiative dedicated to helping people with physical impairments attain greater independence, he gained the relevant skills and landed a design job. He enrolled in IAC in 2008 with the aim of learning new skills to edit photographs he takes as a hobby. This evolved into a Visual Communications track in the IT Apprenticeship Program where he was exposed to a design environment. Today, he works at an events management company.
“I have a new lease on life. Disable does not necessarily mean unable. I take life on, one challenge at a time,” added Mr Quek.
“I have a new lease on life. Disable does not necessarily mean unable. I take life on, one challenge at a time.”
- Michael Quek, Recipient, Microsoft Unlimited Potential Scholarship