Microsoft hosts #AllCanCode, adding coding skills to enhance career opportunities beyond physical limitations

 |   Thornthawat Thongnab


Microsoft (Thailand) Limited recently continued its mission to empower every young person with the IT skills required in the tech-fueled world through its #YouthSpark initiative. Under the partnership with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, the Redemptorist Foundation for People with Disabilities (Mahatai) and ChangeFusion, #AllCanCode training workshops were conducted for youths with disabilities to enhance their problem-solving, critical-thinking and coding skills – which can be seen as highly-prized assets in the ‘Thailand 4.0’ era – and offer equal career opportunities in a landscape where digital-oriented skills stand to add greater value to Thailand’s economy. The workshop was held at Redemptorist Foundation for People with Disabilities (Mahatai).

Launched in 2012, Microsoft YouthSpark is a global initiative to empower 300 million young people in 70 countries around the world to achieve more through opportunities to develop computer science skills, spark innovative ideas, find jobs, and start their own businesses. From July 2016 to June 2017, Microsoft Thailand aims to expand its learning opportunities to inspire youth’s computer skills through Microsoft basic coding training programs to 7,000 unfortunate and disabled youth in remote areas.

Data from the Department for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities in 2016 show that only 28.56% of the handicapped workforce, or 213,896 persons, are actually employed, while 397,800 (53.11%) remain jobless1.

Rev. Dr. Pichan Jaisaree, President of the Redemptorist Foundation for People with Disabilities (Mahatai), said, “Today, there are countless laws and regulations to support and create equal opportunities for people with disabilities. For instance, Section 33 from the Persons with Disabilities Empowerment Act, B.E. 2550 (2007), revised in B.E. 2556 (2013), states that a workplace employing 100 workers or more is bound by law to recruit 1 disabled person, or at a ratio of 100 to 1, to broaden employment opportunities for the handicapped. However, there still remain a large number of unemployed handicapped people due to the lack of in-demand professional skills – a factor that changes over time depending on the shifting needs of the employers. IT and computer skills now rank among the most valuable skills in the job market, and it is wonderful to see that Microsoft has given great importance to coding skills development for youths of all abilities. Through these skills, they can pursue better career opportunities, foster self-reliance, and achieve their lifelong goals in an era of ever-changing economic and social landscapes.”

Siriporn Pajharawat (right, second row), Director of Developer Experience & Platform Evangelism (DX) Group, Microsoft Thailand, Rev. Dr. Pichan Jaisaree (middle, second row), President of the Redemptorist Foundation for People with Disabilities (Mahatai), Klaikong Vaidhyakarn (left, second row), Director of Social Tech, ChangeFusion and youth from the Redemptorist Foundation for People with Disabilities (Mahatai), who joined #AllCanCode

Siriporn Pajharawat, Director of Developer Experience & Platform Evangelism (DX) Group, Microsoft Thailand, elaborated further on the #YouthSpark initiative: “In a world where technology is driving rapid changes, one of the most important challenges we face is to ensure that disruption is balanced by equal opportunity for all. It is a great pleasure for Microsoft to join our partners in elevating problem-solving, critical-thinking and coding skills of youths of all abilities through the “#AllCanCode” coding training course. Under Microsoft YouthSpark, we seek to inspire and support people of all abilities to advance a future where the benefits of technology, and the opportunities it can open, reach those who need it most. Microsoft will invest its strongest assets – technology, employees and partnerships – as well as grants to train children and youths with disabilities at ICT learning centers around the country.”

Witaya Puphala, an alumni of Redemptorist Vocational School for Disabled and a successful handicapped programmer and webmaster for LK Group Pattaya, also shared his valued experience to all attendees.

“Microsoft has joined forces with ChangeFusion to deliver world-class coding courses to Thai youths of all abilities,” said Klaikong Vaidhyakarn, Director of Social Tech, ChangeFusion. “We are very pleased to partner with Microsoft and extend computer science learning opportunities to all Thai youths today in order to contribute to the transformation of Thailand’s future.”

“Today, technology is developing at a rapid pace in order to support people of all abilities – from general users to people with disabilities. In today’s context, IT skills are just as important as linguistic and communication skills.” Witaya Puphala, a successful handicapped programmer and webmaster for LK Group Pattaya, said. “I believe that technology will help us rapidly gain access to a wealth of information, which will lead to limitless learning and create equal opportunities for all, no matter who you are and where you are, as long as you know how to utilize it.”

“I really had fun learning coding through Minecraft today. The structure of the training program made it enjoyable and easy to understand. It also helped shape coding to be even more vividly to me and other attendees,” Sangwan Nonthaboon, a youth who joined #AllCanCode, reveled about his impression about Microsoft’s coding training program “I would like to thank Microsoft for realizing the significance of coding and offering this opportunity to us. This was a very valuable experience that could not be had from anywhere else. I do believe that coding is one of the skills that enables more logical thinking and problem solving skills, which helps add strength to further disabled people’s career advancement.”

“Additionally, Microsoft also provides online coding trainings through Visual Studio Code and Microsoft TouchDevelop for those who would like to continue learning coding after #AllCanCode. We believe that everyone has their own outstanding potentials and talents, if only we are confident and believe in ourselves that we can do it. Microsoft would like to take part in inspiring and empowering Thai youth of all abilities to achieve more and enter labor market with value-added skills. We hope that everyone will help strengthen Thailand’s future and raise its competitiveness in a long run.”

Microsoft YouthSpark has held several activities to teach coding through its basic training course since 2015. The course itself has gained popularity among parents and educators. Today, 40,000 youth across Thailand have already experienced the basic coding course from Microsoft YouthSpark.