Microsoft Philippines Encourages The Filipino Youth to Code and Come Up with Innovative Business Ideas

Last week, I had a round-table meeting with our friends from Microsoft Philippines where we talked about We Speak Code - a week-long campaign celebrated throughout Asia Pacific from the 21st to the 27th of April aimed at inviting the youth to adopt coding as a way of expanding or broadening their employment and entrepreneurial horizons.

We Speak Code follows the footsteps of the highly successful ‘Hour of Code’ campaign by, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding participation in Computer Science education. Globally, more than 10 million students have already taken the ‘Hour of Code’ challenge and with 3 billion people speaking more than 2,000 different languages across the Asia Pacific region, it is hoped that many more students will sign up to adopt ‘code’ as their official second language.

“We Speak Code will enable people to celebrate their coding skills or take their first step towards learning to code through the interactive coding courses provided by Microsoft and,” said Mr. Alvin Gendrano, Director for the Developer and Platform Group for Microsoft Philippines. “By focusing on one simple, achievable goal – a week of code – and tying it to the younger generation’s innate love of gadgets and apps, we hope to channel the energy of youth into a loud demand for more resources, education and skills training in coding which we hope will pave the way for a future generation of Filipino IT programmers and developers,” added Gendrano.

Microsoft Philippines, Gawad Kalinga, We Speak Code
[L-R] Mr. Joben Rara, Technical Evangelist for Microsoft Philippines; Mr. Alvin Gendrano, Director for Developer and Platform Evangelization Group for Microsoft Philippines; Ms. Unyx Sta. Ana, CEO of Orchestrack – a Microsoft BizSpark Plus Startup; Ms. Sheryl de Luna, Marketing Communications Manager for Microsoft Philippines

The campaign, with the catch phrase “We Speak Code”, aims to give millions of people from all over the region a taste of what coding is, demonstrate how accessible learning coding can be, and create interest in expanded programming and computer science courses and activities in schools.

“We Speak Code is one of the many ways Microsoft has reached out to the Filipino youth to make them understand the value of computer science and basic programming. These are skills that serve as the foundation for many jobs today and those that will be created in the future. It is extremely important that the youth in the Philippines have access to the education and skills training needed to adequately prepare them," shared Mr. Philip Cheang, Imagine Cup Winner.

According to the Global Employment Trends 2014 report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), youth unemployment remains a major challenge in Southeast Asia. The estimated youth unemployment rate (13 percent in 2013) is almost three times that of the total unemployment rate, and approximately five times that of the adult unemployment rate. The report summarizes that given the young demographic profile of many of the countries in the region, equipping youth with education and skills to obtain productive jobs are likely to remain key policy concerns for many governments.

Microsoft Philippines, Gawad Kalinga, We Speak Code
Among the activities conducted by Microsoft during the event includes basic coding sessions to Gawad Kalinga partner community.

"Microsoft Philippines is encouraging the Filipino youth to learn how to code. Everyone can do it. And we are even providing young people who are interested with easy-to-use online tools for learning how to code and for actually coming up with their own applications for Windows and Windows Phone operating systems," Mr. Gendrano told me during our meeting.

A report by the International Youth Foundation (IYF) released last year found that the global youth unemployment rate is expected to reach 12.8 percent by 2018. As the technology sector continues to drive economic growth in Asia, youth with ICT skills will find themselves better qualified for new employment and entrepreneurial activities. According to the study “Connecting to Work” from The World Bank, in India, for example, jobs in the ICT industry pay up to twice what service-sector jobs pay, whereas in the Philippines an entry-level tech job pays, on average, 38 percent more than minimum wage.

“Having basic coding skills does not only expand to employment options, it also presents entrepreneurial opportunities for many. With knowledge and understanding of coding, there are endless innovative business ideas to come up with and you would know how to turn them to reality,” shared Ms. Unyx Sta. Ana, CEO of Orchestrack, a Microsoft BizSpark Plus Startup.

Beginning 21 April, Microsoft has hosted a range of activities and events across the region in collaboration with local partners to celebrate “We Speak Code”. The company is also providing tutorials and lessons on its website for people from all walks of life to host their own basic coding training in their schools and communities. Microsoft is also supporting’s petition for every student to have the opportunity to learn computer science in every school. Log on to to sign the petition or share coding stories, images, thoughts and events via social media such as Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr using the hashtag #wespeakcodeph. Several Filipino personalities have already expressed their support for the campaign and these include style-icon Laureen Uy, musician Christian Bautista and Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero.

For more information on We Speak Code visit, like on Facebook or follow @MicrosoftPH on Twitter.