Grab and Microsoft to help some drivers transition to tech careers

GRAB is partnering Microsoft to help interested drivers in Singapore switch to entry-level software development roles through a training programme.

Both companies are also aiming to boost digital literacy for up to 5,000 drivers and delivery riders by the end of 2021.

As part of the new tech training and reskilling initiatives, 250 students will be groomed in skills related to artificial intelligence (AI). Grab plans to hire the best performers into full-time roles.

The partnership was announced by Grab chief executive and co-founder Anthony Tan at the Fortune Global Forum on Tuesday.

"Singapore has been a tech hub. But it's not just about attracting global talent and global companies. It's also about reskilling our folks here and up-levelling them," Mr Tan told a virtual audience.

Grab had announced a regional partnership with Microsoft in September last year, with the intention to train university students and create a pathway for interested drivers to pursue careers in tech.

The training programme for drivers will be conducted by Temasek Polytechnic, and is part of the SGUnited Skills programme. Trainees will go through eight months of coursework that include computer science fundamentals, Java programming and UI/UX concepts. Critical thinking and interpersonal skills will be honed in simulated workplace scenarios.

At the end of the course, trainees will be invited to interview for roles at companies such as Grab, Ninja Van and Adecco.

To boost their digital literacy, drivers and delivery riders will now have free access to Microsoft's e-learning modules via GrabAcademy, Grab's training initiative.

Over 439,600 certifications have been issued since February 2020 after Grab rolled out the course in Indonesia and Vietnam. Grab will expand the course to Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines and Thailand by mid-2021.

Grab and Microsoft are also working with Singapore Polytechnic on a pilot programme to groom students in AI skills. The top performers will be fast-tracked for internship opportunities with Grab.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who was on the virtual panel with Mr Tan, said that growing Singapore's talent pool is critical to the future.

The government will partner companies to help train individuals, welcome global talent to be based in Singapore, and continue its strong emphasis on science and tech in Singapore's education system, Mr Heng said.