Grab unveils multi-year plan to raise digital literacy after contributing US$5.8bn in SEA


Lifestyle technology company Grab has launched a multi-year plan to equip individuals and small businesses with the necessary technology skills and tools to thrive in the new digital economy. This comes on the back of its inaugural social impact report, which shows that it has contributed an estimated US$5.8 billion to Southeast Asia’s economy in the 12 months leading to March 2019.

Named "Grab for Good", the social impact programme comes with ambitious goals by 2025, one of which involves bringing digital literacy and greater inclusion to three million Southeast Asians through partnerships with governments, private companies and non-profit organisations. It will also train 20,000 students through its tech talent initiatives in partnership with educational institutions, non-profits and leading technology companies. On the business front, Grab aims to help over five million more traditional firms and small merchants save cost and increase productivity. Ways include digitising workflows and processes.

To achieve these, the company has unveiled two flagship initiatives - a skills training and digital literacy partnership between Microsoft and Grab, and regional “Break the Silence” initiative, that enables the deaf and hearing-impaired to better participate in the digital economy through the Grab ecosystem. More initiatives will be announced later this year.

According to Grab group CEO and co-founder Anthony Tan, “‘Grab for Good’ is about building an inclusive platform, and the company's commitment to deliver "positive, sustainable impact" in every country that it operates in. While Southeast Asia is poised to become the world’s fourth largest economy by 2030, Tan said:

The hard truth is that not everyone has equal access to opportunity – and the equal chance to succeed with the region’s growth.

"If the private sector actively creates programmes for local communities, technology can be within reach for many, and the learning of new skills can immediately improve the livelihoods for many more people in Southeast Asia,” he added.

Partnership with Microsoft

Grab and Microsoft are partnering to fulfill a "shared vision" to make the economic opportunities in technology and the digital economy accessible to all across Southeast Asia, said a press release.

The partnership will cater to varying levels of digital literacy, starting with training students in select universities across Southeast Asia to ensure they are ready to join the tech industry. Microsoft will provide access to industry-recognised content, curriculum, a learning platform and certifications, in addition to comprehensive technology tools such as Azure for Education. Meanwhile, Grab will support applied learning through industry-relevant challenges and data, facilitate learning experiences such as hackathons, and offer internships.

Grab and Microsoft have partnered with University of Indonesia and Bandung Institute of Technology to offer the Microsoft certification programme, with more universities across Southeast Asia expected to come on board in the next six months.

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Under the partnership, Grab driver-partners will also have access to Microsoft’s Digital Literacy certification programme via the Grab driver app. They can complete basic courses, covering topics such as computer basics, using the Internet and productivity software. Upon completion of the course, driver-partners will be awarded a Microsoft certification for free. They will be available first in English in GrabAcademy, an online training platform within the Grab driver app, and in local languages next year.

Andrea Della Mattea, president, Microsoft in Asia Pacific said: “One of the challenges we see in Asia Pacific is the democratisation of education. We believe education should be accessible to everyone, specifically, tech and digital literacy."

This encourages ingenuity, computational thinking and problem-solving skills, all of which are key to the future.

Other partners

Additionally, Grab and Microsoft will create a pathway for interested driver-partners to pursue technology careers, with support from Generation: You Employed, a global "skilling-to-employment’ non-profit organisation. The programme will include a practicum-based curriculum, and offer the opportunity to receive certification in Microsoft proprietary courses. Graduates of the programme would be matched for interviews with Grab and Microsoft partner companies for specific technology roles.

The first pilot programme in Singapore aims to upskill approximately 100 driver-partners, with the first batch trained by June 2020. The programme will also plug into SkillsFuture Singapore’s initiatives in workforce development and lifelong learning where relevant, to provide comprehensive support for Singaporean Grab driver-partners. This will be rolled out in other countries after evaluation of the pilot programme.

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Grab and Microsoft will also join forces with the ASEAN Foundation and Empire Code to provide individuals, particularly children and spouses of Grab’s partners, with access to inclusive computer science education through the FutureReadyASEAN platform.

(Photo courtesy: 123rf)

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