Grab partners with Microsoft for digital literacy initiative

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Grab on Tuesday, September 24, announced a regional partnership with Microsoft for an initiative that looks to equip people and businesses from Southeast Asian countries with the needed digital skills to thrive in fast-growing economies and pursue careers in technology. 

The flagship initiative was launched under the ride hailing company’s new social impact program called Grab for Good.

“One of the challenges we see in Asia Pacific is the democratisation of education. We believe education should be accessible to everyone, specifically, tech and digital literacy,” said Andrea Della Mattea, president of Microsoft Asia Pacific. “This encourages ingenuity, computational thinking, and problem solving skills, all of which are key to the future.”

Grab claims that over 6.6 million workers across the 6 major Southeast Asian countries are going to require reskilling by 2028. Approximately 41% of that number reportedly lack relevant IT skills that new jobs will demand.

To narrow the digital skills gap, Grab and Microsoft are combining their resources and ecosystems to fulfill their shared vision to make the economic opportunities in technology accessible for people in Southeast Asia.

They aim to train a total of 20,000 people in the region by 2025. There are 3 ways the partnership plans to achieve this.

One is by partnering with select universities across the region to train students with technical skills that are in demand by industry. Microsoft will provide the learning materials, curriculum, and certifications, as well as Azure for Education, a platform that provides students access to developer tools for applications; while Grab will facilitate learning experiences such as hackathons and internships.

Grab has yet to announce which schools they partnered with.

Another way is by providing Grab driver partners access to Microsoft’s Digital Literacy certification program, which has basic courses covering topics such as computer basics, using the Internet, and productivity software. The driver can be awarded a Microsoft certification for free upon completion of the course. These will all be available in the driver’s Grab app.

Grab and Microsoft will also help drivers interested in pursuing a career in tech by letting them enroll in a practicum-based curriculum developed by the nonprofit organization Generation: You Employed, or receive certification in Microsoft proprietary courses. Those who will graduate will have opportunities to work for Grab and Microsoft partner companies in technology-related roles.

“If the private sector actively creates programs for local communities, technology can be within reach for many, and the learning of new skills can immediately improve the livelihoods for many more people in Southeast Asia,” said Anthony Tan, CEO of Grab.

Meanwhile, Grab plans to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and micro-entrepreneurs running mom-and-pop shops by digitizing their business and having them integrate the platform’s services so they can reach a bigger market.

They also plan to provide them economic access through loans and lending services that can give them the capital they need to scale their business

In the Philippines, Grab will start with Jollijeep mobile food stalls by offering them access to GrabFood food delivery and GrabPay cashless payments to help them grow and compete with newer restaurants.

The project is expected to kick off within the year and will be expanded to other traditional and home businesses moving forward.

The other flagship initiative that was announced is called “Break the Silence”. It looks to champion inclusivity by offering differently-abled people such as those who are deaf and the hearing-impaired an opportunity to earn their own income by becoming a Grab driver partner.

At the event, Grab announced they will expand the initiative to Indonesia and Singapore and enhance it in countries where it’s already running – like Thailand and Malaysia. The company currently has over 500 deaf driver partners on the platform and plans to double this number over the coming year.

The initiative currently cannot work in the Philippines as the Land Transportation Office does not issue professional driver’s licenses to people who are deaf or have other disabilities. –