Microsoft Renews Commitment With SPD – Speech by Ms Jessica Tan

Speech for Microsoft Renews Commitment With SPD

07 Oct 2010

Speech by Ms Jessica Tan, Managing Director, Microsoft Singapore, at the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Scholarship Award Presentation and IT Apprenticeship Graduation Ceremony 2010, 7 October 2010, 10.30am at the Microsoft Auditorium, 1 Marina Boulevard


Good Morning Ms Chia Yong Yong, President, SPD

Ms Lam Siew Bee, Deputy Director, Digital Inclusion, Sports & Social Cluster, IDA

Ladies and gentleman

And our scholarship awardees.


For those who might not be familiar with the various ways Microsoft participates in the communities we serve, let me briefly discuss our various programs. Collectively called the Unlimited Potential program, Microsoft has made our involvement in local communities a key priority for every business leader, in every country.

While being successful in our business, it is also our goal to enable those in our community who are challenged in one way or another, with the power of technology, sometimes said to be a great social & economic equalizer.

So four years ago, when the Singapore government first talked about becoming an inclusive society, we were also re-thinking the initiatives and investments in our Unlimited Potential programs in Singapore. We decided to partner with SPD due to our common goal to not just bridge the digital divide in society, but to provide a physically disabled person the ability and opportunity to participate and contribute to society equally. This single minded focus has provided us with a platform to focus our efforts on making an impact. I can tell you, we at Microsoft are very happy to have found a partner in SPD with the vision to think big and to make an impact.

Since 2006, Microsoft has been in active partnership with SPD, starting with the establishment of the “Microsoft Accessibility & IT Training Centre. MAITC featured the first dedicated Technology Lab, which provided structured IT training for people with disabilities using the Microsoft Unlimited Potential curriculum.

Then in 2007, MAITC evolved into the Infocomm Accessibility Centre through an extended partnership with MCYS and IDA. Over the last three years, we have rallied our employees and over 40 Microsoft partners in the community to support our mission to raise over S$1.1 million to support the IAC.

The IAC has blossomed as the only centre in Singapore that provides IT training across disability types, allowing people with disabilities an opportunity to achieve industry-recognised certification to prepare them for employment. Since its inception in 2008 to today, IAC has…

  • Trained over one-thousand individuals
  • In 270 training courses
  • With 96 of those trainees going on to the apprenticeship programme
  • And 22 of those individuals having secured open employment.


Last year, we unveiled the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Scholarship to help disabled individuals go even further to unleash their educational potential. This year’s recipients are further testimony to the power of education to transform lives.

The Microsoft Unlimited Potential Scholarship presented today is another initiative as part of the partnership with SPD. I was extremely heartened to have had the opportunity to review the scholarship applicants. Their determination to succeed in their areas of interests is an inspiration.

Last year’s recipients are steadily closing on achieving their goals and continue to provide inspiration for all of us. Take for example, Jeremiah Oon Kim Keat who is now a final year student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic pursuing his Diploma in Information Technology. And Ang Kai Lan has already graduated and is putting her Diploma in Multimedia and Information Technology to good use as a Catalogue Specialist for HP. Then there is Lim Kay Choong who graduated with a Diploma in Information Technology and is currently pursuing a Business Management Degree at Singapore Management University.

I am confident that this year’s recipients will be equally good role models, encouraging other students with disabilities to strive for success. It’s stories like these that inspire us and our employees to do more for the community, and to push the boundaries of technology, to believe in the magic of software.

But training and education are only half the story. To really reach their potential, people need to be able to find a good job and earn their own way. As part of the IAC, the IT Apprenticeship Programme has been IAC trainees IT-specific work training, but it does not have the capacity to go further.

So based on the success of our previous initiatives with SPD, we are taking this opportunity today to announce a new four-year, $1 million commitment in support of the Microsoft ALT Learn Programme at SPD.

ALT Learn is an initiative designed to give IAC graduates who are technically-skilled, disabled individuals the employment matching and job placement help they need to find good, steady jobs. Over the next four years, Microsoft is committed to maintaining funding for the IAC and to support the founding and staffing of the ALT Learn Programme through fundraising initiatives like the President’s Challenge.

We at Microsoft share a similar goal and vision as SPD, we believe in helping to transform the lives of every member in the community through technology. The IAC’s success and the graduates today are testimony to that. I strongly believe that the work we are doing together is contributing to the advancement of the economic and social well-being of people with disabilities in Singapore.

We are heartened by the generosity of our staff and partners in contributing to our shared vision and we look forward to an even closer collaboration with IAC in the coming years to help more people with disabilities realise their IT potential.

Thank You.