Grab to upskill millions of ASEAN workers, ‘digitize’ more businesses by 2025

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 25 2019 11:32 AM | Updated as of Sep 25 2019 12:54 PM

Officials of Microsoft Asia Pacific and Grab during the launch of Grab For Good Campaign. [R-L] Daiana Beitler, Philanthropies Lead, Microsoft Asia; Ricky Kapur, Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Operations, Microsoft Asia Pacific; Cheryl Goh, Group Vice President, Marketing, Grab; Lionel Yeo, Grab CEO Advisor; Hooi Ling Tan, Co-founder, Grab, Handout

JAKARTA – Grab plans to improve the digital literacy of some 3 million Southeast Asians, digitize more small businesses and train future-ready workforce by 2025, its officials said Tuesday.

The company has partnered with global technology firm Microsoft to address the current digital skills "gap" as part of its Grab For Good campaign, co-founder and CEO Anthony Tan said in a regional press briefing here.

The program also aims to train some 20,000 students through its tech talent initiatives, Tan said, adding that at least 16 percent of ASEAN youth want to work in the technology space but some don’t have access to tools to prepare them for the needed skills. 

“Grab For Good is about creating economic access and digital equality for all in Southeast Asia. It’s about enabling and empowering people to create a sustainable livelihood for themselves,” Tan said. 

Microsoft will train students for tech skills and help retool partner-drivers and their families so they too can be part of the digital economy, Microsoft Asia Pacific vice president of Sales, Marketing and Operations Ricky Kapur said.

“Not a large proportion of the population have access to technology that is needed to equip themselves in roles that are needed in the future, so there is an opportunity for us to build the future but the reality is that there is going to be a lot reskilling to be required,” Kapur said. 

Grab and Microsoft will work with universities across Southeast Asia in training students for in-demand skills. Access to content and other learning tools will be provided by Microsoft while Grab will support through hackathons and internships, the company said.

The Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia are the top countries seen to gain the most from improved productivity, Kapur said, citing a commissioned study.

In its first Social Impact report, Grab said it contributed at least $5.8 billion to the Southeast Asian economy within 12 months leading to March 2019. 

At least 21 percent of its partner-drivers had no work prior to joining Grab, but more can be done, Tan said.

“The app-based economy has transformed efficiency as we know it but not all are well trained to benefit from that so we want to help more. Microsoft has very graciously committed to skills training and digital literacy. Grab and Microsoft will work together to upscale partner-drivers and to give them the chance to be placed in tech careers,” Tan said.

“As Southeast Asia grows, we hope everyone can rise with it and benefit from the growing digital economy,” co-founder Hooi Ling Tan said.