On 29 November, more than 30 participants gathered at Informatics Academy for our monthly networking session, which focuses on the importance of upskilling employees in the area of coding, and how in doing so, can create better opportunities for their employees while benefitting the community.
Panellists L to R: Ms Chen Enjiao (Code for Asia), Mr BOH Boon Hou (NCSS), Ms Sharon Yeo (Talent Tribe) and Mr Anson Quek (Food from the Heart)
The first speaker, Mr Boh Boon Hou, Senior Assistant Director of Shared Services at the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) started the session with an overview of the information technology landscape of the social service sector. Often, voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) regard technology as a low priority issue or they lack funding or skilled manpower to push for the use of technology. However, these challenges also represent opportunities for organisations to support the VWOs as part of their CSR or volunteering initiatives. For example, Mr Boh shared that VWOs will benefit if companies provide technical expertise on areas such as website development and maintenance, bespoke solutions, infrastructure support, product support. However, he stressed that such support should be sustainable and not one-off.
Ms Chen Enjiao, Chief Executive Officer of Code for Asia spoke about the benefits of coding and that it is easy for employees or individuals to learn coding with the availability of online tools and resources. She shared that one should have in mind a social problem that they would like to solve before beginning to code.
Food from the Heart found the solution to their challenge of managing their 8,000 volunteers more efficiently through the use of a mobile application, which was developed to resolve the issue of finding replacements for their volunteer-led bread programme. Mr Anson Quek, its Executive Director, said that before the use of the application, volunteers had to call the centre to inform them of them of their unavailability, and the centre staff would then have to find a replacement which was often a time consuming process. Today with the use of technology, volunteers simply have to log into the system and manage their own routes and duties through their smart phones.
Ms Sharon Yeo of Talent Tribe, a local home-grown start-up that help companies attract, engage and develop Millennial talent, shared that coding is simple and easy to learn, helps with career progression and but from an organisation’s perspective and most importantly, helps with employee retention. She illustrated her point with an example of a staff at her company who did not have any prior experience on coding, but subsequently picked up the skills as a developer and excelled in it.
The session concluded with the key points that coding is not as scary what one imagines it to be, allows one to upskill and ultimately benefits both, the for profit and the social service sector.