When Kanyarat Krutpisamai started taking classes at the Office of Non-formal and Informal Education (ONIE), she could only afford to study on Saturdays. The rest of the week, she was busy helping her parents run their small grocery store in Bangkok. Last year, however, one of her teachers at ONIE encouraged Sasi, as Kanyarat is known, to apply for the Microsoft Techsperts program, an initiative that works to improve the employment prospects of young adults. Since being accepted to the program, she’s been able to study on Sundays as well, learning essential technology and communication skills, and putting those new abilities to use with on-the-job training at an IT store in Central Pin Klao, a local shopping mall.
Developed by Kenan and Microsoft, the Microsoft Techsperts project works by building the technical capacity of vocational school students in Bangkok and Hanoi, preparing them for a successful technology retail career. With assistance from Microsoft "Brand Ambassadors," Kenan experts in Thailand and Vietnam equip young vocational students with essential technology sales skills, focusing on communication, professionalism, sales, and familiarity with Microsoft platforms and applications.
Some of the key aspects of the program include working to identify gaps between young salespeople's skills and the relevant workforce demands, adapting and localizing curriculums, delivering training, providing internships, and establishing mentor relationships. Participants who complete the program are certified as Microsoft Techsperts and are fully prepared to join the technology retail workforce. Since the beginning, Kenan and Microsoft experts developed the capacities of 80 vocational school students and recent graduates in Bangkok, Thailand and Hanoi, Vietnam.
The Microsoft Techsperts curriculum translates directly to the modern workplace. As Sasi explained, "It's been very helpful for me to learn how to understand different customers' behaviors and thoughts. For example, when selling IT products to seniors, it's important to explain a product's functionality in deeper detail and use basic, easy-to-understand terminology. As salespeople, we need to create trust and credibility in order to sell products and this only happens if we provide accurate information, use the right technical terms, and are proactive about learning new and emerging technologies."
Such critical thinking is a key factor for future employment prospects. The Microsoft Techsperts project is unique in introducing these ideas to young adults in a creative and engaging way that captures their attention. "Before starting the Techsperts program, I was not interested in IT or new technologies," said Sasi. "During the training, however, I had to chance to meet several Microsoft ambassadors who truly changed my perspective. I've had to do a lot of my own research, especially early on in the course, to really learn about Microsoft's technology, but it's been worth it."
Sasi recently won the Microsoft Techsperts "Best Sales Pitch" Award and is in the process of applying to become a Microsoft Brand Ambassador herself. She hopes to further develop her own sales career, as well as inspire others. "I would encourage anyone in my position to apply for the Techsperts program," she said, speaking after the awards ceremony. "Opportunities like this are not easy to find and they just might change your life."
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