Speaking at a press conference on June 13 at the Myanmar Information and Communication Technology Park, Cernuda announced that Microsoft would work with the Myanmar Computer Company (MCC) to help train and equip 100,000 people in workforce-ready IT skills over the next three years.
Myanmar may currently be a bit of backwater in Microsoft’s grand plan for Asia, given the country’s low level of internet and mobile phone penetration, but the regional Microsoft executive clearly sees great potential for growth. And the company sees Asia – Cernuda’s stomping ground – as the place to be, given the world’s economic shift towards the region, particularly the massive markets of China and India.
As Cernuda told the media, his company’s motto is mobility first and cloud first. Microsoft is focusing on mobile devices and on services provided in the “cloud” – particularly its Office 365 service, a product that allows you to get access to your applications and files, stored in the cloud, from almost anywhere.
Cloud computing means programmes, applications and files are stored remotely on servers, rather than on a personal computer, tablet or smartphone.
The HR challenge
When it comes to Myanmar, a crucial part of the jigsaw is training to improve the chronic human resources challenge, a legacy of half a century of underdevelopment. Local and foreign IT companies frequently gripe about the limited number of skilled IT personnel and challenge of keeping skills training up to date, a never-ending process.
Cernuda told the press conference that MCC’s strategic alliance with Microsoft was “to develop cloud-ready professionals in Myanmar” by training up to 100,000 young people to enable them to fill the IT jobs market.
“We are going to see more and more people using IT in Myanmar,” Cernuda said. “Microsoft is totally committed to the training partnership to make things happen.”
MCC CEO Cindy Chaw Khin Khin added that “the initiative will allow our students to explore next generation opportunities in the fields of cloud computing.” Under the alliance, the MCC will offer new programmes in cloud computing and other emerging technologies in association with Microsoft. MCC has been in the information and communications technology since 1989. The MCC group is mainly split into two areas – the Education Service and the ICT services. The Education Service comprises ICT training for basic ICT foundation courses to under graduate degree courses, post graduate diploma courses and master degree programmes. The ICT services consists of ICT planning and consulting services, business process outsourcing, software development, web applications development, software as a service, system integration and outsourcing ICT services.
Microsoft is attempting to keep up with the times and the trends. According to his company resume, Cernuda’s key goals are to guide Microsoft’s current transformation from a primarily on-premise software business to a devices-and-services company, offering compelling and integrated experiences to Microsoft’s customers across PCs, tablets, mobile devices and TV.
Having local partners such as MCC is an important part of this delivery.
Joint training venture
U Nyein Oo, a director at MCC told Mizzima Business Weekly on the sidelines of the event: “Some local experts will award the certificate of the Microsoft Certified Trainers at MCC and foreign experts from the Microsoft Company will teach new programmes according to the alliance scheme.”
Of course, the MCC will not be teaching 100,000 students simultaneously, but aims to reach out to thousands of students in the first and second years at the MCC’s four institutes, he said. The training courses will be in Yangon, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw and Yadanabon. Successful applicants must have a background in IT education.
“The MCC’s training centres located around the country will offer the new programmes, and then collaborate with universities to offer those new programmes to students,” U Nyein Oo added.
Three certificates on offer
Microsoft’s training content will be incorporated into the MCC Training Institute’s programmes, including those that aren’t entirely computing–related. Students from retail and other academic fields and students studying in the 170 MCC Centres countrywide can enroll for the new courses with three certificates on offer – Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MSCD), and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE).
MCC aims to have its students’ industry-ready and achieve global employability by complementing its existing curriculum with Microsoft certifications, according to MCC.
Development of Myanmar’s IT sector matters. Myanmar’s potential to achieve unprecedented economic growth is anticipated to take place with the aid of technology bolstering six key areas of its economy – government, education, healthcare, banking, retail and agriculture, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, quoted in the press release. Much of this change is set to happen with the aid of cloud computing, it added.
According to the International Data Corporation, cloud-related IT jobs will grow at a rate of 32 percent per year to more than 2.3 million jobs in Asia Pacific by the end of 2015 but the region’s workforce typically lacks the latest IT skills to address the demands of today’s cloud-enabled society.
Two different partners
Microsoft has forged links with MCC in terms of training and the Myanmar Information Technology (MIT) company in terms of product sales and service in the Myanmar market.
Established in 1997, MIT, the country’s largest software company, was selected by the Microsoft as “Market Development Partner” in June 2013. It has to take responsibility to represent Microsoft in the country while dealing with different levels of the public and private sectors.
MIT’s chief executive officer Dr U Tun Thura Thet says he has branched out to handle the Microsoft partnership.
“I set up a new company separately, and hired further employees for the company – Knowledge Centricity (Myanmar) Company to focus on running many activities of the Market Development Partner,” Dr U Tun Thura Thet told Mizzima Business Weekly.
As Market Development Partner, the Knowledge Centricity Company is taking responsibilities to negotiate with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Technology to raise the score of the ICT education development, Dr U Tun Thura Thet said.
MIT was also selected as the Gold Partner of Microsoft, which acts as business partner in the country. The MCC is Microsoft’s only “Gold Learning Partner” in the country, which offers training, and ICT education development.
“The MIT can sell software products as well as provide solutions to different types of business sectors,” Dr U Tun Thura Thet said.
Representatives of the Myanmar Computer Federation (MCF) met with the visiting Microsoft team to discuss challenges ahead for the IT industry.
U Zaw Min Oo, secretary general of the MCF told Mizzima Business Weekly, “First of all, MCF’s members urged Microsoft’s delegate team to support the Myanmar Unicode font to operate fully in Microsoft’s operating system, adding that most local IT companies are using pirated software products in their business.”
He said the MCF called on Microsoft to deal with the education sector differently than the commercial sector when it came to making sure legal Microsoft products are being used.
U Zaw Min Oo said the local IT industry looked positively at plans by Microsoft to set up a development centre in the country.
Myanmar needs some catching up. “Compared to advanced regional countries, the local software industry is still lagging behind those countries,” Dr U Tun Thura Thet said. “There is very limited skilled labour in the ICT industry. On the other hand, there is high potential to develop the ICT industry within a few years.”
Education and such training programmes as those offered through the Microsoft-MCC partnership will help.
Dr U Tun Thura Thet said there should be a favourable ecosystem environment in the local ICT industry to leverage the skills and knowledge of different stakeholders exclusively. “The public schools and private institutions should offer tailored-made programmes for students to engage in this demanding industry,” he said.
This Article first appeared in the July 03, 2014 edition of Mizzima Business Weekly.
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