MICROSOFT CORP. said Tuesday it has partnered with 14 technology firms in the Asia Pacific, including ePLDT, Inc., for a program aimed at increasing the employability of people with disabilities.

The technology organizations will be trained to become “inclusive employers,” Microsoft said in a statement.

They will provide job shadowing, internships, mentoring and job opportunities for persons with disabilities (PWDs), it added.

Microsoft said it will train PWDs in data engineering and programming, cloud computing, and application development.

The employer partners will be trained in “inclusive design and assistive technologies enabled through artificial intelligence.” They will also receive training from six non-profit organizations: Be. Lab (New Zealand), JA Korea, KODAF (Korea Differently Abled Federation), SG Enable (Singapore), The Redemptorist Foundation for People with Disabilities (Thailand), and Virtualahan (Philippines).

The employer partners of Microsoft are: Cloocus (South Korea), Cognizant Technology, Solutions (Singapore, Philippines), Crayon (Singapore, Philippines, Thailand), Datacom (New Zealand), DXC Technology (New Zealand), ePLDT (Philippines), HCL Technologies (Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, New Zealand), Ingram Micro Asia (Singapore), Metanet Tplatform (South Korea), Nexus Tech (Philippines), NTT Asia Pacific (Singapore, Philippines, Thailand), NTT Data (Singapore, Philippines), Tech Data (Singapore), and Wipro (Singapore, Philippines, Thailand).

Microsoft said the technology firms are expected to complete the accessibility fundamentals course, which “provides guidance on inclusive design principles and leveraging assistive technology.”

Vivek Puthucode, chief partner officer at Microsoft Asia Pacific, said: “In today’s workplace, it is imperative that we include everyone, and accessibility is the vehicle to inclusion. It is a responsibility and an opportunity. There are no limits to what people can achieve when technology reflects the diversity of everyone who uses it.”

“Inclusive organizations outperform their peers and attract and keep top talent, and we have seen how inclusion drives innovation,” he noted.

Microsoft said the program also includes a job fair for PWDs, which will be held in the second quarter of 2021.

“With more than 1 billion people with disabilities in the world, disability-inclusive employment can lead to 1-7% rise in gross domestic product in Asia Pacific through increased economic productivity,” it added.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Arjay L. Balinbin