Offering seniors IT skills
A partnership between RSVP Singapore and Microsoft Singapore provides IT skills training to older workers to remain employable.
RSVP Singapore – The Organisation of Senior Volunteers is partnering with Microsoft to enable seniors to better engage with society and to enhance their employability through basic IT skills training. Under the partnership that was officially launched last month, RSVP Singapore received nearly $400,000 from the Microsoft Unlimited Potential (MUP) in money and donated software over three years, along with $200,000 in discounted software and hardware.
Guest-of-honour Lee Yi Shyan, Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry & Ministry of Manpower, stressed the importance of engaging Singapore’s silver community. “The employment rate of residents aged 55 to 64 has been increasing steadily over the past five years, from 45.2 percent during the last economic downturn in 2003 to 57.2 percent in 2009. Older workers represent a growing pool of silver talents with lifetime of experience and skills. It would only be productive for companies to find the best way to tap on these skills to better contribute to the company.
“One important element of productivity is developing a workforce with the right skills and expertise. For this, training is important. The MUP programme allows older employees to stay active and remain employable by imparting to them critical IT skills. With these skills, older employees will be more confident to re-enter the workforce or continue to stay employed as a more valued and productive employee in the company,” Minister Lee said in his address.
Following the Government’s lead in recognising the increasing value of senior workers, Microsoft and RSVP Singapore will work to expand its existing Cyberguide programme and develop new courses that will give seniors the computing and technology skills needed to develop entrepreneurial or community employment opportunities.
“As Singapore comes to rely on older workers more, the value of being able to work effectively in a digital world will be tremendous,” explained Jessica Tan, managing director, Microsoft Singapore. “A society that embraces its seniors and leverages their experience and insights is a society that will continue to be successful.”
Since the inception of its Cyberguide programme in 1998, RSVP Singapore has been proactive in creating an IT friendly environment for senior citizens. “Our Cyberguide programme has worked closely with community clubs and Government agencies in helping to bridge the digital divide by conducting training courses in both English and Mandarin. We started our very own IT Centre in 2001 with the support of Central Singapore Community Development Council and the Rotary Club of Singapore,” said Dr Philbert Chin, president, RSVP Singapore. “Today’s MUP launch is another important milestone in our journey towards making seniors current and relevant.”
Ultimately, the goal is to train 2,000 seniors in online and productivity skills by 2011. Following the training, RSVP Singapore expects that at least 10 percent of seniors will be successful in finding full or part-time employment, finding new volunteer or mentoring opportunities or starting their own businesses.
In addition to providing IT training for seniors to enable greater employment and volunteer opportunities, Microsoft’s investment also covers a technology upgrade that consists of software to enable RSVP Singapore to better serve its members and beneficiaries, including Microsoft Dynamics CRM System for donor and volunteer management.
RSVP Singapore is also implementing Microsoft Exchange Online, which will let the organisation offer all 1,000 of its members @RSVP e-mail addresses and utilise the efficiencies of Microsoft Exchange and Outlook without the capital cost. Exchange Online offers Microsoft communications and collaboration solutions in a cost-effective online form to help VWOs and other organisations with small IT budgets and support teams to benefit from enterprise-class tools. Meanwhile, recently trained seniors have been helping with data entry as the organisation implements the Dynamics solution, which will give RSVP advanced software for managing a diverse group of activities and programmes and further improving its services.
Initial response good
According to RSVP Singapore, the initial response for the Microsoft courses offered at its Silver Infocomm Junction @ RSVP has been encouraging with 114 individuals participating in the Microsoft Office 2007 course alone. The Microsoft courses are accredited by Certiport and conducted by the Microsoft Certified Application Specialists. In addition to its own members, RSVP Singapore is working through partners such as Community Development Councils (CDCs), other VWOs and self-help groups to identify seniors who need IT training for employability.
Currently, three courses are conducted by Silver Infocomm Junction @ RSVP under the MUP programme. They are Microsoft Word 2007, Microsoft Excel 2007 and Microsoft PowerPoint 2007. These courses are conducted during the day and in the evening to serve the needs of both working and non-working seniors. Most of the classes are conducted in English. However, RSVP’s Cyberguides have conducted classes in Mandarin whenever there is a demand.
For more information on the Microsoft courses, call RSVP Singapore at 6259 0802.
(PHOTO CAPTION FOR ABOVE PICTURE: Minister Lee Yi Shyan gives out a certificate of completion to senior, Gabriel Muthusamy, who completed the Microsoft Certified Application Specialist course. On the left is Dr Philbert Chin, president of RSVP Singapore.)