Towards An Inclusive Workforce Employers Forum 2014 – Speech by Miss Jessica Tan


  • Miss Chia Yong Yong, President, SPD
  • Distinguished Panelists & Guests,
  • Our exemplary scholars
  • Members of the media
  • Ladies and Gentlemen



  1. On behalf of Microsoft Singapore and our valued organizer of today’s event, the Infocomm Accessibility Centre (IAC) which is managed by SPD, as well as Dr Yeo Sze Ling, welcome to Towards An Inclusive Workforce 2014.
  2. It’s been a great pleasure of ours at Microsoft to have found a partner in SPD with the vision and gumption to think big and to make an impact in segments of our society which are sometimes left behind in our incredible pace of life.
  3. We thank you for joining us at this meaningful event. Together, we hope to advance stronger fair employment adoption in Singapore.
  4. At a global level, Microsoft is an active participant in the communities we serve specifically in the areas of software donations to NGOs and training with the view to bridge the digital divide.
  5. 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, as we believe it is a great social & economic equalizer. In Singapore, our focus is on addressing the training needs of people with disabilities and seniors.


Empowering People with Disabilities

A long term partnership with SPD

  1. Microsoft is grateful to have a strong partner in SPD, as our joint vision to establish the Infocomm Accessibility Centre to provide IT training to bridge the digital divide for people with disabilities, as well as enhance their employability. Since 2009, the Infocomm Accessibility Centre, together with its partners and supporters, has provided training to a total of 2,139 individuals with disabilities. Most of these graduates have also gone on to secure gainful employment.
  2. In addition, on the 145 trainees who went through IAC (Infocomm Accessibility Centre) work training, 37 found employment. Their Monthly income is over $600.
  3. Today, I am happy to announce that Microsoft has renewed its commitment to SPD in supporting the IAC and the YouthSpark Scholarships for the next 5 years.


Introducing Microsoft YouthSpark and the Microsoft YouthSpark Scholarship Award

  1. Creating opportunities for youth form the backbone of our community work. Today’s young people face an opportunity divide – a gap between those who have the access, skills and opportunities to be successful and those who do not.
  2. To help close this gap, we launched Microsoft YouthSpark, a companywide initiative designed to create opportunities for hundreds of millions of youth around the world.
  3. Through partnerships with governments, non-profits and businesses, we aim to empower youth to imagine and realize their full potential by connecting them with greater education, employment, and entrepreneurship opportunities.
  4. Microsoft YouthSpark is focused on three core areas:
    • Empowering youth by helping transform education and expand digital inclusion
    • Unleashing future innovators by giving youth the inspiration and tools to imagine new opportunities
    • Helping youth realize new opportunities of employability and entrepreneurship


Launched in 2009, the Microsoft YouthSpark Scholarship was incorporated to nurture and develop promising local youths with disabilities to achieve their full potential.


The scholarship also aims to:

  • Motivate disabled people to pursue higher level of learning in IT
  • Nurture outstanding disabled students in the IT field so that they can serve as a good role model in encouraging other disabled students to strive for success


  1. Over the last five years 19 scholarships have been granted to inspiring and promising individuals and we are proud to say that most of them are still pursuing their studies.
  2. Today’s ceremony marks the start of further education for scholarship recipients with inspirational stories to share.
  3. I’m proud to announce that four outstanding students with disabilities will be receiving this year the Microsoft YouthSpark Scholarship Award to pursue higher education in the field of Information and Communication Technologies.
  4. I was extremely heartened to have had the opportunity to review the scholarship applicants this year. Their determination to succeed in their areas of interests is an inspiration. I am confident they will serve as good role models in encouraging other students with disabilities to strive for success.
  5. Many of you would have already hear about William, who was cited in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally Speech last month for showing resolve, strength and character in overcoming challenges. Due to his hearing disability since the age of four William worked doubly hard to achieve outstanding academic results and graduated from ITE College Central last year with a perfect Grade Point Average (GPA) and won the Rotary-ITE Student Excellence Awards in the same year.
  6. Allow me to highlight the courage and determination of another proud recipient of the Microsoft YouthSpark Scholarship. Six years ago, Carmen was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis II, a genetic disorder that causes tumours to form on her nerve tissues. At that time, she was a first-year student pursuing a diploma at Temasek Polytechnic. She underwent an operation but complications from the surgery led to a spinal cord injury.
  7. Carmen had to attend therapy sessions regularly and all these proved too much for Carmen. The stress of her newly acquired disability took a toll on her both physically and emotionally. She started to withdraw from her studies and slowly from the world as well.
  8. But Carmen picked up the courage to step in the society again. Thanks to rehabilitation and support from her family and friends, Carmen decided to enrol herself into Nanyang Polytechnic, where she is now a first-year student pursuing a diploma in Business Enterprise IT.
  9. Carmen, I know that you hope, from the knowledge gain from your studies, to set up an online business selling handcraft. I have no doubts that your courage will take you to there and even further.
  10. Neilson’s passion for technology is truly inspiring. Neilson Cheong was diagnosed with a functionally dead left ear and a perfect-hearing right ear when he was seven. He chose to pursue a Diploma in Mobile and Wireless Computing at Temasek Polytechnic (TP) after secondary school. There, he joined various student clubs such as the Mobile & Wireless Computing Special Interest Group where he was made vice-president of the club in his second year. His commitment and dedication to these activities earned him a distinction for his co-curricular activities.
  11. And finally Yan Xin, who graduated from St. Anthony’s Canossian in 2012 and is now a second-year student pursuing a diploma in Computer Engineering at Temasek Polytechnic. She aspires to be a software programmer or developer after graduation.
  12. All four are exemplary students academically. They are passionate about IT, which is great for our industry. I’m sure you will all agree with me that their stories are indeed inspiring and that we can all learn a thing or two from these outstanding individuals.


Closing Remarks

  1. As we celebrate their achievements today, I hope that this event will serve as a reminder that we all have a part to play in creating a fair and inclusive workplace.
  2. I would like to thank our partners at SPD, for their shared vision in enabling people with disabilities to truly realize their full potential.
  3. We at Microsoft continue to be dedicated to the work that you do, as we continue to support you in fund raising, your training efforts, enabling through technology and through awareness platforms like this, so that more employers can see the opportunities of a well-trained, intelligence and disciplined work force that SPD is readying through their programs.
  4. Once again, congratulations to our scholarship recipients. We look forward to learning more about your success stories. To fellow employers, let us work together to make Singapore a world-class workplace that celebrates diversity and inclusiveness.
  5. Thank you and I wish you a pleasant day ahead.