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Partnership to give OFWs access to technology and training

CEBU CITY-- Microsoft Philippines and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) are expanding the reach of Unlimited Potential “Tulay” to include OFW families based in Cebu. This was marked by the formal launch of the UP Tulay facilities at the OWWA center in Cebu.

This local launch is part of the second phase of Tulay, which includes the opening of centers in the OWWA offices in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Unlimited Potential Tulay is a joint initiative of Microsoft and OWWA that provides IT training and access to technology that will enable OFW families to communicate via the Internet. More than three thousand OFWs and their families are targeted to benefit from the project.

The initiative is implemented in partnership with the Filipino Workers Resource Center in Malaysia, and the Filipino Overseas Workers in Singapore. More OFW communities in other countries are planned to be included in Tulay in the near future.

Microsoft has donated roughly Php 4 million in cash and Php 3 million worth of software and training (estimated retail value) for the first year of the project.

Tulay is part of Microsoft Unlimited Potential, a global initiative focused on providing technology skills for underserved individuals. Recipients of UP grants are public centers where people can gain IT skills and training to help themselves and their communities.

Other UP Tulay Community Technology Learning Centers are located at the office of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Pasay, the Bayanihan Center in Singapore, and the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

Through UP Tulay, OFWs and their families will receive training on basic computer applications such as Word, Excel (for simple accounting and budgeting), and email/web functionalities. Those already armed with the basic computing skills will be given advanced courses. The community technology centers will also have facilities where OFWs and their families can communicate via e-mail, video conferencing, and MSN chat.

Overseas Filipino Workers are hailed as the “new heroes of the Philippine economy” with their significant contribution, in the form of regular remittances to the country, of an average of $ 8 billion per year. Today, there are 7.4 million OFWs around the world. An estimated 2,500 Filipinos leave daily to work abroad.

A large percentage of these workers face discrimination and abuse in the countries where they work. OFWs also risk the disintegration of the family and breakdown of marital ties due to physical separation from their loved ones for prolonged periods.

Through UP Tulay, OFWs are expected to gain IT skills that enhance the work they offer to their employers, increasing their value in the workplace. The skills they learn will further help them gain a competitive edge if they decide to return home or pursue another career. The program also mitigates the social impact of working overseas by using technology to connect OFWs and their families. OFWs will also be able to keep abreast with the latest news and events happening back home.

According to Microsoft Philippines Managing Director Antonio “TJ” Javier, “UP Tulay is part of Microsoft’s commitment to bridge the digital divide for OFWs. This program helps OFWs to extend their skills through IT training, while at the same time deepen their ties with their families.”


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