Temasek Polytechnic and Sumitomo Life launch digital upskilling programme for persons with disabilities

Mr Richard Wang Hongze (left) and Mr Mansor Ali are currently enrolled in the 11-week digital talent accelerator programme. PHOTO: TEMASEK POLYTECHNIC

SINGAPORE - Temasek Polytechnic (TP) now offers a digital talent accelerator programme for graduating students and alumni with disabilities.

The 11-week programme, which began on March 15, aims to equip participants with skills for in-demand roles in the digital industry.

They can pick up digital skills and get certified through online courses by Bloomberg, Facebook, Tableau and Microsoft, get career training and personal mentorship from persons with disabilities (PWDs) already working in the industry.

The programme was officially launched on Wednesday (March 24) with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between TP and Sumitomo Life Insurance.

The insurer, which hires over 700 PWDs in Japan, has seconded several staff members to guide the accelerator programme on a full-time basis.

"We hope this programme will ignite many young persons with disabilities to actively pursue digital careers ahead of them," said Mr Toru Shiomitsu, senior officer at Sumitomo Life.

The programme will also invite speakers from sectors like digital technology and research and analytics to provide insights on the various companies and roles in the industries.

Mr Mansor Ali, 27, is one of 23 participants enrolled in the inaugural programme.

He had graduated with a diploma in digital forensics in 2014 but became blind in 2019 due to idiopathic intracranial hypertension, a disorder caused by high pressure in the brain.

Mr Ali had to leave his job in the creative industry and suffered from depression. Last year, he learnt braille and how to navigate with a walking stick.

After talking to some friends about being unable to land a job, he was put in touch late last year with Ms Cindy Chng, programme director of the accelerator programme.

The programme is free, and participants will receive a $1,000 stipend at the end of the programme, sponsored by Sumitomo Life.

Mr Richard Wang Hongze, 27, has cerebral palsy and is also enrolled in the programme. He studied Big Data Management & Governance at TP and graduated in 2019. However, he has since only worked contract jobs and has not secured a full-time position.

Mr Wang was unaware of the programme until he received a call from a student support counsellor at TP, who invited him to enrol in it.

One week into the programme, both Mr Ali and Mr Wang said the programme has been very inclusive and accommodating towards all disabilities and the on-job experience has been invaluable.

Students can put their newly acquired digital skills to use in solving real digital business challenges presented by companies such as Certis, Wildlife Reserves Singapore and YMCA of Singapore.

"We just got to meet a client two days ago... It was an eye-opening and exhilarating experience," said Mr Wang.

Mr Peter Lam, principal and chief executive of Temasek Polytechnic, said: "These experiences will help our students better understand their talents and abilities, and be more confident in securing suitable employment upon graduation."

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