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Giving a tech lifeline - for a lifetime
INFORMATICS Education is making the best of their expertise - IT and business education - and extending it beyond their own students.
That is to those with physical disabilities, to women from low-income families, and to students from primary and secondary schools. The global education group, which offers IT and business education programmes at its school at National Library Building, has collaborated with several organisations on social initiatives for the long term.
Since August 2015, Informatics has worked with REACH Community Social Services, an organisation for charity, to engage their beneficiaries.
This includes the women of Blooms of Hope, a REACH project that equips women from low-income families with skills in flower arrangement and making gifts and hampers. Informatics offers them free IT courses where they can learn how to run Google sites and use office productivity tools such as Microsoft Excel, Powerpoint and Word.
"Traditionally, women didn't need that many skills when they sell flowers," said Melina Yong, vice-president of corporate services at Informatics. "But in this day and age, even they need to have IT and accounting skills to make it into a business."
In addition, Informatics provides these women with bookkeeping classes, where accounting principles are part of the curriculum. Upon completion, they may choose to progress to take higher-level accounting lessons also offered by Informatics to Blooms of Hope. They are the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) Bookkeeping Level 1 Programme and Bookkeeping Level 2 Programme, which are qualifications generally recognised internationally.
LCCI Bookkeeping and IT classes have been offered by Informatics since April 2016 to people with physical disabilities too. This is in partnership with SGEnable, an agency dedicated to enabling persons with disabilities.
And since September 2017, Informatics has been a venue sponsor for the volunteer training courses of Junior Achievement (JA) Singapore, a non-profit organisation intent on educating youth on entrepreneurial skills. Informatics staff have volunteered to teach in JA learning programmes at various primary and secondary schools.
Because most educational initiatives occur outside of school hours, the lecturers and other staff who volunteer to teach for the non-profit organisations often do so in the evenings after work, on weekends, or during term break.
"It takes a lot of effort. Even though we give them two days of CSR (Community Social Responsibility) leave, it's all after office hours. We teach for the Blooms of Hope project in the evenings so teachers stay back," said Ms Yong.
"It's available for all staff to take two days leave to do CSR and community activities. That's not forced upon them," adds Allan Norton, general manager of Informatics, on CSR leave. "The option is there, the opportunity is there, and it's usually taken up by a majority of the staff."
Along with sponsoring and volunteering for Singapore Cybersports and Online Gaming Association (SCOGA) in their programmes, young gamers can turn their interests into career prospects, such as with classes on live streaming and commentary: "We don't want to spread ourselves too thin," said Mr Norton.
New opportunities will sprout out of current collaborative relationships. Volunteer work with organisations such as REACH, SGEnable and JA is set to seep into 2018, not terminating just yet. "It's not one-off, where you walk away afterwards," he said. "These are ongoing programmes that are continual."
In 2017, four National University of Singapore (NUS) students were attached with Informatics for three months as part of the City Development Limited-Global Compact Network Singapore Young CSR Leaders Award competition.
The best proposal to improve the CSR strategies of participating organisations would win. The NUS team, who were second, had proposed to Informatics that focusing on education, their strong suit, would be most sustainable.
"It is very important that you give back to the community," said Mr Norton. " It's very important at Informatics that we give back where we can best do that."
- This article is part of a series highlighting inspiring companies that are catalysts of change in corporate giving. The Business Times supports NVPC's Company of Good programme as a media partner. Go to www.companyofgood.sg for more information.