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IT Can Make People 'Employable'
Source: http://www.bt.com.bn
Source Date: Friday, December 17, 2010
Created: Dec 16, 2010

Arsenio Alegre, chief executive officer of not-for-profit WorkVentures Ltd, proposed adopting this model for workforce development during the just-concluded Microsoft Accelerating Asia Pacific forum.

Alegre says his company works with people who would most likely be described as "socially and economically excluded", adding WorkVentures uses technology to help these people be "employable" and more competitive to join the workforce.

Technology "works like magic," he says.

The three reasons why WorkVentures Ltd uses technology is for engagement, to create a pathway for future jobs and as an enabler to allow students to be equipped with the basic IT knowledge that the workforce is looking for. "Technology is a very powerful tool, for engaging people especially the young, and when you start talking to them about technology and showing them how to use computers, their eyes just light up. You can get their attention and start to teach them," he says.

Alegre says he found that if an individual does not complete Year 12 (Form 6) then it will be most likely that the individual will experience very high levels of unemployment. He says WorkVentures works with students to help them stay in school and also with drop-outs to re-engage them to finish their education.

Alegre says that basic IT knowledge and skills such as knowing how to use Microsoft Word is something that is looked for in the workforce, adding that in the administrative area, this becomes extremely important.

WorkVentures also runs businesses to offset the costs of running infrastructure. It was started 31 years ago.

"Microsoft has been a long-term partner who is very valuable and next year would be their 25th year as a partner," he says.

He says that the partnership is valuable because it allows WorkVentures to have access to technology to make its operation successful.

One other example that Alegre gave to highlight the practical usage of technology to encourage WorkVentures' students to take an interest in the workforce, is that technology allows a student to "feel bright".

"We are very practical people, and I think when you use technology there's almost a self-realisation that occurs, and this example is on hardware technology, where we have a programme called 'I get IT'," says Alegre who explains that this programme is directed towards indigenous children who dropped out of school.

He says that this programme teaches students to take apart a computer and put it back together again, and if they are able to do it successfully then they would advance to learn application programs, such as video making and so on.

"If you allow these kids to feel like they aren't good in anything then they won't be, but if you allow them to feel bright, then there is something there," he explains, giving the example of one student Alegre calls 'Ralph', who went back to school because he felt that "there was something more about himself and he wants to realise that potential".

Alegre was a panelist for the session which was related to "Preparing People for the Jobs of Today and the Future", and it covered the importance of workforce development programmes and education to prepare people for jobs and to improve their livelihood.

The panel, which included Jessica Tan, managing director of Microsoft Singapore, Professor Wu Qing, honorary council chairwoman of the Beijing Cultural Development Centre for Rural Women, and Paul Wedel, president of the Kenan Foundation in Thailand, helped attendees understand the impact that technology, education and training can have on people's lives.
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