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Program to increase employability for people with disabilities in Asia-Pacific

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The first of its kind, the Microsoft Enabler Program provides cloud & AI training for PwDs, accessibility education for employer partners, and inclusive hiring from non-profit organizations supporting PwDs.

Microsoft recently launched a program to increase employability for people with disabilities (PwDs). The Microsoft Enabler Program pioneers disability inclusive workplaces across Asia Pacific by removing the barriers for a more diverse workforce. With more than 1 billion PwDs in the world, disability-inclusive employment can lead to 1-7% rise in GDP in Asia Pacific through increased economic productivity. [United Nations ESCAP]

The program will pilot in five markets: Korea, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, before expanding to the rest of the region by the end of 2020.

Organizations committed to the program will receive training from the Non-Profit organizations (NPOs) to become inclusive employers, and these businesses will in turn provide job shadowing, internships, mentoring and opportunities in tech jobs for PwDs identified by the NPO’s. Microsoft will provide industry required training in cloud & artificial intelligence, as well as a platform for all three to collaborate towards an inclusive future for every person.

“In today’s workplace, it is imperative that we include everyone, and accessibility is that vehicle to inclusion. It is a responsibility and an opportunity. There are no limits to what people can achieve when technology reflects the diversity of everyone who uses it,” said Vivek Puthucode, Chief Partner Officer at Microsoft in Asia Pacific. “Inclusive organizations outperform their peers and attract and keep top talent, and we have seen how inclusion drives innovation.”

Microsoft will provide online training in data engineering and programming, cloud computing on Microsoft Azure and application development in GitHub to the PwDs. These modules will provide crucial technology skills that are globally recognized, and highly sought after in our digital first and remote everything world, therefore providing them with a learning path for industry leading skillsets that improves their employability. For the employer partners, Microsoft will conduct workshops on inclusive design and assistive technologies enabled through artificial intelligence on Microsoft Azure.

“At the heart of the Microsoft Enabler Program is a comprehensive accessibility model that will not only improve inclusion of people with disabilities across Asia Pacific for years to come; it also connects to local talent from underrepresented communities and improves our society. 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone and when we look at the incredible number of businesses and governments who have pivoted to cloud with Microsoft in the region, tech roles and digital skills will be the backbone of the economic recovery every country. And one of the ways we can enable an inclusive recovery is by empowering every person and every business with technology skills,” continued Vivek.

Microsoft’s partners in the region commit to providing opportunities for PwDs by providing job shadowing, training, mentoring and internship attachments in technical roles. These opportunities will be offered in close collaboration with the NPO’s who will match the most suitable PwD profile, skills, qualifications, and ambitions with the requirements of the role.

 

“Accessibility starts with building a culture of inclusion in the workplace. The more you focus on it, the more your culture will improve and evolve. The company culture and workplace environment are important elements of a successful accessibility program. At Microsoft, our vision and strategy of accessibility was to embed inclusive, accessible design into the fabric of the company. And we want to enable every organization to be inclusive,” concluded Vivek.

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A ‘phygital’ experience at HSBC Premier Centre in Pelawatte

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With the demographic equation changing and the mass affluent customers now also choosing to live in the suburbs, HSBC is gearing its branches of the periphery of the city to service customers in this segment.

Pelawatte has become the latest HSBC branch to be upgraded to be an exclusive Premier Banking Centre to meet the growing demand of the affluent population in the residential hub of the Colombo metro region.

The newly refurbished Premier Centre was declared open by Mark Prothero, CEO for HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives. Also present was Nadeesha Senaratne, Country Head of Wealth & Personal Banking, together with senior management and staff.

Nadeesha Senaratne, said, “HSBC has established a long history of 128 years in Sri Lanka, and in the past few years we have seen the value of strategically expanding to meet the specific needs of our customers.”

HSBC’s Pelawatte branch was opened in 1998 and is conveniently located at no 418B Battaramulla – Pannipitiya Road, Battaramulla which currently serves a diverse portfolio of retail banking customers. With the new improvements undertaken, HSBC hopes to provide customers with an inclusive banking service, and attract potential new customers with its Premier banking proposition and worldwide banking service, within the expanding residential neighborhood.

The Premier Centre in Pelawatte models HSBC’s flagship Premier Centre located in Flower road- Colombo 7, with an expansive ‘open’ space concept for casual open dialog with customers. The space has been optimized to enhance the customer experience by providing a ‘phygital’ banking experience with private meeting rooms specially designed to give customers an exclusive banking service with the assistance of a dedicated Relationship Manager. It also features video conferencing facility, which enables customers to connect with their Premier RM’s internationally, while enjoying the highest standards of privacy. Customers can walk out of the branch with the ‘Bank in their pocket’ by opening an account in less than an hour and begin transacting digitally, almost instantly.

(HSBC)

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SLT & Mobitel successfully conclude digitization of Lankagama Village

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Fulfilling its role as the nation’s pioneer in Telecommunication Services, the SLT Group successfully completed the President’s directive of providing high-speed connectivity solutions to the Lankagama Village recently.

An event was held to mark this proud achievement on 20th September 2020 in the presence of Oshada Senanayake – Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), Lalith Seneviratne – Group CEO of SLT & Mobitel, Kiththi Perera- Chief Executive Officer of SLT, M.B.P. Fernandez – Chief Operations Officer of SLT, Prabath Dahanayake – Chief Marketing Officer of SLT, Sudarshana Geeganage – Chief Financial Officer of Mobitel, Shashika Senerath – Chief Marketing Officer of Mobitel, Rasantha Hettithanthrige – Senior General Manager, Engineering & Operations at Mobitel along with SLT & Mobitel technology partners Huawei, ZTE and the community.

The SLT Group provided high-speed 4G/LTE broadband and enhanced voice services within record-time despite the fact that the Lankagama Village is located at the southern boundary of the Sinharaja Rain Forest, in the Neluwa Divisional Secretariat, Galle District; posing severe logistical challenges. Further, the SLT Group also offered SMART classroom solutions consisting of tabs, laptops and school supplies including stationery thereby opening up a world of possibilities for the students in the remote village. (SLT)

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Local tyre manufacturers say ‘no need’ to import motorcycle and three-wheeler tyres

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

Local tyre manufacturers request the government not to import motorcycle and three-wheeler tyres as they have the capacity to supply locally produced premium quality tyres for the segment, without leaving room for any supply shortage in the market.

“We have the combination of quality and technology to meet the demand in the market”, a leading local tyre manufacturer said.

“We have the capacity to meet the local demand for motorcycle and three wheeler tyres and we are already supplying the products to the market, fully meeting its demand,” they said.

“In 2019, Rs. 1,062 million worth motorcycle and three-wheeler tyres and tubes were imported to the country. This means we are able to save Rs. 1,062 million in foreign exchange this year by producing all of these locally”, they pointed out.

“We produce sufficient quantities of high-demand tyres for the local market without any supply shortage. We are supportive of the government’s drive to encourage Sri Lankan companies to manufacture goods that can be manufactured in Sri Lanka. We request the continued support of the government to keep our efforts up in this direction,” they said.”Only a few types of tyres of special sizes are not produced locally. Those products are imported in small numbers. There is lesser demand for these tyres as they are not widely used”, they said.

“Apart from establishing ourselves in the local market, we are in the process of further improving our production capacity to boost our current export volumes. As a result of it, we will be able to create new jobs for thousands of Sri Lankans”. they said.

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